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Friday, April 19, 2024
The Observer

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Markus Burton’s career night leads Irish to upset win over Wake Forest

Irish Come Back from Behind for a Win Against Top ACC Team

Markus Burton can do it all. The freshman standout guard's new career-high 31 points led the Irish to a huge 70-65 victory over ACC opponents Wake Forest. Following Wake’s big upset over now-No. 10 Duke and the controversy from the court storming afterward, this matchup in South Bend was certainly an emotional one.

The Irish have consistently held teams below their average point mark throughout the season with the second best defense in the ACC in points per game and top 30 in the nation. Tonight, they held Wake Forest 14 points below their average of 79 points. As ACC fans have seen throughout the year, emotional victories are often followed by struggles on the road, and tonight was no different for the Deacons. The Irish found a way to battle back from the 5-point deficit at halftime to earn their second big win against a top 5 ACC team this season. The victory is their fourth in the last five games.

Hunter Sallis knocked in his first 3-pointer for Wake Forest, helping them jump out to a 8-2 lead. Burton had two steals in the first half, the first giving the Irish their first basket of the game. Notre Dame took their first lead with 11:54 left in the first half at 20-19, after back-to-back threes from freshman forward Carey Booth and a Tae Davis dunk, the sophomore forward's second of the night. Finding consistent offense through Burton who had 19 in the first half, the Irish entered half time down 43-38. Despite Wake Forest shooting 35.7% for the three-point line in the first half, the Irish kept themselves in the game by taking advantage of turnovers. 

Wake Forest got off to a fast start in the second half, extending their lead to nine. A 12-2 Irish run brought it back to 51-50 with a Booth 3-pointer. The freshman put together a great night, racking up 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks while knocking down 3 threes. His 34 minutes were extremely important with junior forward J.R. Konieczny out due to foot soreness. Meanwhile, Davis matched up against the Demon Deacons' Sallis and despite picking up 4 fouls, held Wake’s leading scorer to just 7 points.

Through the last 10 minutes, the Irish held onto the lead, going punch for punch with the Demon Deacons. Freshman guard Braeden Shrewsberry’s second 3-pointer of the game gave the Irish a 64-60 lead with 1:28 left in the game. Then after a few more free throws, the Irish held on to win 70-65 in a hard fought comeback victory. 

After the game, Wake Forest coach head coach Steve Forbes discussed the team's inability to contain Burton.

 “We had a tough time defending Markus Burton. He has great change of pace, is good at drawing fouls and has that shot-making knack,” said Forbes. 

Burton also had a career-high 11 free throw attempts, making all of them. During the post-game interview, he credited productive practices this week for his success. Referencing the 29-point halftime deficit against Syracuse that turned into just a 3-point loss, Burton was glad the Irish could show off their ability to come back in games again. This time for a win. 

“I am learning to play the game better and learn to use my shot fake. This is what we do, having fun, being locked in after a great week of practice. We showed people that we don’t give up against Syracuse and that came out today against a great team,” Burton said. 

Wake Forest is expected to make the NCAA tournament and with a win could have tied Virginia for third in the ACC. A strong defensive second half and confidence from the Irish freshmen showed this team’s potential as the season wraps up.

Notre Dame will host Clemson on Saturday, March 2 for Senior Day in Purcell Pavilion.

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