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Monday, May 20, 2024
The Observer

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Notre Dame falls short in 'green-out' against Miami

Notre Dame men's basketball enjoyed a brief lead in the second half, but ultimately faltered down the stretch against the Hurricanes.

Although spirits were high for the “green-out’ game in Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame men’s basketball lost its third contest in a row to Miami, 73-61. Freshman Markus Burton led the Irish with 15 points followed by J.R. Konieczny with 13, but it was not enough to complete the comeback. Miami had multiple players dealing with nagging injuries but was able to get a key conference win, while Notre Dame falls to 2-6 in conference play. 

Miami started the game with a Norchad Omier three, the start of a standout game for the forward. Omier finished the contest with 33 points and 10 rebounds. The Irish would take a 6-5 early off of a Konieczny  three-pointer, but would not regain the lead again until the second half. Miami was dominant in the paint, controlling the pace of the game with consistent scoring down low. Three consecutive Omier dunks with 5:01 left in the first half gave the hurricanes a 6-point lead. After a three-pointer from Burton cut the Miami lead to three with 4:36 remaining in the first half, the Irish would fail to score another point before the break, as the Hurricanes extended their lead to 37-29. While the Irish shot well to start the game, they went only 3 for 11 on three point attempts, while Miami made the same amount of shots on half of the attempts. After the game, Hurricanes coach Jim Larrañaga discussed defending the perimeter against the Irish:

“We were okay with letting them shoot a lot of threes in the first half,” said Larrañaga. “We are 22nd in the nation guarding the three, so we knew we could make those shots difficult.” 

To open the second half, the Irish emerged with a different mentality, going on a 11-2 run to regain the lead. Tae Davis — who finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds — laid in a basket to give the Irish a 40-39 lead. Speaking postgame, Konieczny highlighted Notre Dame’s surge early in the second half:

“That break really helped us refocus. Coach told us those last 20 minutes are behind us. Let’s focus on the next 20.” 

The game would seesaw back and forth, with the Irish’s small lineup of Burton, Braeden Shrewsberry, Konieczny, Davis and Julian Roper competing defensively with a seasoned Hurricanes team. After the game, Coach Shrewsberry noted this lineup had never played extensive minutes together and was “winging it offensively,” but he continued to play the players that gave the effort to compete.

Julian Roper, a transfer from Northwestern, made a sensational block with the score tied 49-49 to give the Irish a huge momentum burst. However, after a Konieczny three gave the Irish back a 52-49 lead with 9:28 left in the game, Miami would go on a 17-2 run to take control of the game down the stretch. The Irish were outscored by 15 points in the final nine-and-a-half minutes, showcasing the youth and difficulty scoring this Notre Dame team has experienced all year. With the win, Miami earned their fourth ACC victory on the season. 

Both Miami and Notre Dame had 15 turnovers, but Burton led all players with eight solo turnovers. The Irish have struggled to handle the ball, especially against the teams with elite perimeter defense such as Miami. Burton leads the ACC in usage rate, and consistently faces the best defenders of the other team with limited ball handling help. Coach Shrewsberry commented after the game on his young roster and its challenges:

“Our basketball IQ needs to keep growing as a team,” Shrewsberry said. “I am in a position to both challenge our guys on how to grow as players and as people.”

Since a 22-point win over Virginia, the Irish have gone 1-5 and floundered in close games — especially on the offensive end. With a chance to avenge a close 63-59 loss against Boston College on Saturday, the Irish will look to rebound.