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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

Men’s Basketball ships Terriers back up to Boston

The fourth ever meeting between the Irish and the Terriers came on the heels of Notre Dame’s close loss to Syracuse last Sunday. The Irish, 6-2 coming into the match-up, looked to build on their successes seen on defense and from the line, ending the game with a close 81-75 victory. Notre Dame is currently sixth in the country on free throw percentage. All of the starters (graduate guard Dane Goodwin, Trey Wertz, freshman guard J.J. Starling, graduate guard Cormac Ryan and graduate forward Nate Laszewski) all have been averaging more than 10 points a game.


Boston University has had a bumpy season so far. They were 4-4 at the start of the game after falling to UC Davis and Milwaukee. Terrier graduate students Walter Whyte and Jonas Harper have been the leading scorers for Boston University all season, with Jones already having two double-doubles thus far. The first half of the game saw the Irish comfortably ahead of Boston with a seven point lead at the end. Although there were several possessions Coach Mike Brey would have liked to have back, the team shot pretty well with Ryan perfect on three of his three-point shot attempts. Freshman forward Ven-Allen Lubin, Laszewski and Starling continued the team’s stellar free throw shooting.

Where Notre Dame really shined, however, was on defense. The Irish made the Terrier’s shooters uncomfortable on every shot. All of those contested shots lead to four blocks in the first half. Lubin fouled shooters on layups in their last two possessions of the half, with Leprechaun Ryan and the fans disrupting one of the free throws with their noise. After letting Boston jump ahead at the beginning of the first half, Notre Dame answered with three straight three pointers — one from Cormac Ryan and two from Trey Wertz. However, with 7.5 minutes left in the game, Laszewski was fouled and took a shot to the face. After standing up, he was immediately escorted back to the locker room by training staff. It was a lot quieter in Purcell for the remainder of the game. Brey later said that Laszewski was poked in the eye but expected to be able to play Sunday.

After that, Notre Dame never lost control of the lead, but they were never quite able to put the Terriers away. That being said, the Irish were outscored 46-45 in the second half. Ryan, Wertz and Starling led the Irish in points with 20, 16 and 15 points, respectively. Ethan Brittain-Watts led Boston with 19, while Nevin Zink and Whyte each had 13. The final score was 81-75 Notre Dame. In the post game interview, Ryan discussed how the team responded to the momentum changes throughout the game.


“We’re good at winning close games, that’s a quality that’s helped us and will continue to help us down the stretch,” Ryan said. “I think we’d prefer to not be in close games but getting a win as you know [is key]. We [have to] continue to do our business at home and just find ways to win.”


On Sunday, Dec. 11, Notre Dame will host 7-3 Marquette in Purcell, whose only losses come against Purdue, Mississippi State and Wisconsin, all of whom have received votes to be in the Top 25 Ranking (with Purdue currently at No. 4). Their most impressive win so far this season was against then No. 6 (now No. 12) Baylor.

While on defense, the Irish should keep an eye on Kam Jones and Olivier-Maxence Prosper, who each have been averaging more than 15 points per game. One of Notre Dame’s main strategies for the season has been to limit the number of fouls (although they notched 16 team fouls against BU) so as to limit the number of free throws they allow. However, it may not be the worst idea to temporarily abandon this plan against Marquette’s forward Oso Ighodaro. The 6-foot-9 sophomore leads the team on points from the line (fourth-highest average on the team), but is eight for 22 (36.4%) from the paint line. For reference, the Irish’s own forward, Laszewski, is 87.2% from the line.

Tip-off against the Golden Eagles is at 4pm.

Contact Annika Herko at aherko@nd.edu