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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

Irish fall short against Duke despite electric performance from Goodwin

Despite a valiant effort by the team, Notre Dame men's basketball fell to Duke 68-64 in an away matchup in Durham, North Carolina. After a strong drive into traffic, star freshman guard J.J. Starling was able to cut Duke’s lead to just one point with just 36 seconds left to go in the game. This play came at the peak of Notre Dame’s momentum, as the Irish had to fight from behind during the majority of the game. However, despite keeping up with the Blue Devils throughout the match, Duke was able to put the game away after an open three-pointer gave them a four-point lead. Notre Dame lost the hard-fought contest 68-64, their third loss in a row by six points or less.

Heading into Tuesday’s late-night matchup, the Irish were 12-point underdogs playing away in a hostile Duke environment. The team was determined to set the tone early, however, with an early 7-0 run allowing them to keep up with their opponents.

Following this run, shot selection became a problem for Notre Dame as they could not seem to find a rhythm as a team. With only one assist in the first half in comparison to Duke’s nine, the team mainly operated in the mid-range area, scoring from fadeaways and jumpshots. This highlighted a greater issue, as well, as the Irish only made one shot beyond the arc in the first.

Despite this, Duke only held a narrow eight-point lead heading into the second. This came as a result of effective defending on the other end of the court. Despite five turnovers in the first, good transition defense from Notre Dame only allowed for two points off of these mistakes. Head coach Mike Brey’s choice to use a zone-defensive scheme also forced turnovers and defended the three-ball well.

In the second half, the team showed more potential, playing well on both ends. Notre Dame was having a block party on defense, with a total five swats from freshman forward Ven-Allen Lubin, graduate guard Cormac Ryan and graduate forward Nate Laszewski. In turn, they converted on the fast-break chances that were created. One rejection from Ryan allowed him to race down the floor and find Laszweski for an open three.

This ball movement and execution of opportunities highlighted an improved Irish offense in the second. The scoring was led by graduate guard Dane Goodwin who was two points shy of matching his career-high with 25 points. Goodwin, who was benched this game in place of Starling, took off in the second half, helping Notre Dame keep up with a powerful Duke offense. Late into the game, Goodwin scored 17 straight points to cut the deficit to just four. The graduate guard ended the second half perfect from the field, making shots from all areas of the court.

However, Duke was able to capitalize on some late game-deciding errors from the Irish. After having a career-high night with 33 points last game against Virginia Tech,  Laszewski fouled out late in the second when the game was within two possessions. This came as an unfortunate turn for the team, as his presence as a scoring threat would have helped in the final minutes of the game.

However, the Irish remained composed as excellent plays from Lubin and Starling brought the game within reach. An emphatic block from Lubin led to a transition three-pointer from Starling with a minute to go. Soon after, a Lubin putback layup after an offensive rebound narrowed the lead to two points. Unfortunately, as it seemed throughout the game, Notre Dame was close enough to win, but Duke put the game away with free throws.

Duke was led by star freshman Kyle Filipowski, who scored 22 points for the night. In his post-game interview, Filipowski shared respect for the competition, stating: "All credit to Notre Dame — they’re a great team. They’re very experienced, and their record doesn’t show how good they actually are. We knew it was going to be a battle."

The game was also emotional for Duke, as it marked the return of legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who retired last season after his 42nd year with the team. Brey served on his coaching staff from 1987-1995 as an assistant before eventually joining the Irish in 2000. 

The Irish look to get some late-season momentum in their next game after losing eight of their last nine matches. Moving on from this loss, Notre Dame continues their road trip against Virginia this Saturday at 12 p.m.