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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Irish drop to 1-7 in ACC with loss to Seminoles

It was a Tuesday night must-win game for Notre Dame men’s basketball. But as has become a recurring theme this season, the Irish failed to deliver. After falling to 1-6 in conference play following a deflating road loss to Syracuse, the Irish needed to turn things around against a struggling Florida State team in front of a packed student section back from winter break.

Yet despite some electrifying moments that only served to underscore how much potential this team has, Florida State came away with the win behind red-hot starts to both halves. The Seminoles led by as many as 24 on two separate occasions and weathered multiple Irish runs, winning 84-71. 

Florida State immediately jumped out to a 13-0 lead behind hot shooting and a stingy defensive effort. The game opened with an impressive baseline cut for a layup and ferocious transition dunk. Irish head coach Mike Brey said that set the tone for the contest.

“Those first two possessions, now they’re confident as hell,” he said after the game. 

A mock cheer went up from the student section as graduate student forward Nate Laszewski knocked down a free throw to put the Irish on the board for the first time more than four minutes into the contest. But that didn’t stem the tide. 

“I told [the team], I really misread you. I thought from practice we’d be really digging in, and hungry, and a little more fight to us,” Brey said.

However, he also admitted that as the head coach, he must take full responsibility. Yet whoever is to blame — Brey, the veteran group of players, or a combination of both, time is running out to salvage the season.

Florida State extended its lead to 24 points just nine minutes into the contest. It seemed that all life had been sucked out of Purcell Pavilion.

“You try not to think about it like that, but when you put yourself in such a deep hole like that, especially in the first half, so early, it’s really tough,” graduate student guard Marcus Hammond said after the game. 

But the Irish wouldn’t roll over that easily. With a tenacity that has been lacking most of the season, the Irish rattled off a 21-3 run to pull within six points late in the first half. Hammond provided a much-needed spark off the bench for the Irish with 10 first-half points. He finished with a season-high 19 to lead the team in scoring.

Despite going into the locker room trailing by double digits, there was reason to expect Notre Dame would stay in the contest. But the beginning of the second half was very similar to that of the first. Florida State once again quickly opened up a 20-point lead. 

They knocked down eight of their first nine from the field after the break. Also like the first half, the Irish strung together a run which made the game slightly more interesting. The contest appeared to be all but over with nine minutes to play when Florida State opened up another 24–point lead. The Irish went on another double-digit scoring run to cut the lead to single digits. But the outcome was never truly in doubt. 

Notre Dame already had serious questions to answer after such a slow start in conference play. And they will only intensify after a double-digit loss to a team near the bottom of the ACC standings.

“This is a group that’s played a lot of basketball, they’re thoroughly disappointed where they’re at,” Brey said. “We all are.”

The next chance to right the ship for the Irish comes Saturday when Boston College visits South Bend. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.

Contact Liam Coolican at