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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

Turnover-riddled Irish fade in second half against South Carolina

Expectations certainly aren't high for Notre Dame in the first year of the Micah Shrewsberry era. The Irish were projected to finish dead last in the ACC Preseason Poll and already had two losses heading into the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge on Tuesday night.

The good news for the Irish was that they found themselves in a largely tight game against undefeated South Carolina. The Gamecocks may not wind up being anything special — they too were voted last in their conference preseason poll — but they did enter Tuesday 5-0. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, too many of last year's bad habits that led to a 2-9 record in games decided by five points or less reared their ugly head at Colonial Life Arena in a 65-53 defeat.

The Irish got off to a hot start, quickly jumping out to an 8-0 lead on the strength of five early points from junior guard Julian Roper II. However, South Carolina bounced back from missing its first five goal attempts with a 10-2 run to give them their first lead just seconds before the halfway mark of the opening half. The Gamecocks wouldn't trail the rest of the night, although the Irish did keep things close for most of the night. The score was tied at 40-40 with just 13:46 remaining in the game, and South Carolina didn't gain a double-digit edge until the final four minutes.

Ultimately, sloppy mistakes undid the Irish in the loss. Notre Dame turned the ball over 12 times and was minus-6 on points off turnovers. That doesn't include several airballs from the Irish offense on the night, including on back-to-back possessions midway through the second half by freshman guard Braeden Shrewsberry. The Irish shot a paltry 13-20 (65%) on free throws. After starting 5-8 from three, the Irish made just 2 of their final 13 tries from beyond the arc.

Sophomore forward Tae Davis led the way for the Irish, reaching double digits for the second time this year with 15 points. Junior guard J.R. Konieczny and Roper also reached double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Notre Dame's 53 points, however, were a season low and the team's fewest since a 63-51 loss to St. Bonaventure in the 2022 Gotham Classic on Nov. 22 of last year.

Notre Dame will get its first taste of conference play in their next contest. The Irish will leave the cold weather behind for a trip to Miami for a noon showdown on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on The CW.