The Notre Dame Fighting Irish lived up to their name on Saturday afternoon as the visiting Irish refused to go away against the No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia led by as many as 10 in the second half, but Notre Dame kept the pressure on until the very end as the Hoos used solid free throw shooting to escape 60-54. With the win, Virginia improves to 22-2 (10-2 ACC), while Notre Dame falls to 13-12 (3-9 ACC).
De’Andre Hunter was outstanding for the Cavaliers, notching a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Kyle Guy added 22 points, shooting 7-for-15 (4-for-10) from the field.
As a team, Virginia shot 37% from the field and 35% from three for the day as they battled against Notre Dame’s zone defense for the majority of the game. The Hoos had eight turnovers — all in the second half — leading to nine points for the Irish.
Notre Dame went 35% from the field and 8-for-30 (27%) from three, led by TJ Gibbs with 17 points. John Mooney finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds, and DJ Harvey added 10 points in the loss.
Virginia went 11-for-17 from the free throw line, including some clutch shots from Hunter, Guy, and Ty Jerome down the stretch. Hunter succeeded in driving the lane and drawing contact in the second half as 13 of Virginia’s 17 free throws came in the second stanza.
Guy got the scoring started with a strong take and finish in the lane over John Mooney to put the Hoos up. Virginia’s defense forced a tough shot by Mooney late in the shot clock, but a strange carom off the iron gave the Irish another chance and TJ Gibbs evened things up. Notre Dame took the lead off of a Gibbs runner in the lane after Hunter missed on the offensive end from the middle of the Irish zone.
While Virginia’s offense was ugly to open the game (1-for-8 from the field), the defense was outstanding as they held Notre Dame to just four points and 29% shooting with a shot clock violation.
Guy ended a nearly five minute scoring drought with Virginia’s first three of the game, then Clark found him again in the corner for another one to give the Hoos the 8-4 lead. After another shot clock violation and a couple misses from Notre Dame, Jerome got in on the scoring action with a three of his own to put Virginia up by six.
Gibbs ended a 7:05 scoring drought for the Irish with a three at the buzzer to make it 11-7, then followed it up with another to bring Notre Dame within one with 10:15 to play. He barely missed on another three that would have given the Irish the lead, but it deadened on the back of the rim and Guy got a floater to go to put Virginia up by three.
Braxton Key got a good look and finish at the rim, and Diakite got one of two at the free throw line to give the Hoos a 16-10 advantage with just under eight minutes remaining in the first half. DJ Harvey became the first non-Gibbs player to score for the Irish, banking a two off the glass to cut Virginia’s lead to four. A three from Harvey made it a one-point game at 16-15 until Hunter finally connected for a two from the free throw line.
Hunter hit again from the same spot after the Irish came up empty on the other end, and the defense sent Mooney to the free throw line where he made both to make it 20-17 with 4:49 to play in the first half. Guy couldn’t convert a three, and Harvey made another layup to pull within one yet again.
A miss from Harvey went to Mooney under the basket, but Key came up with a huge block that led to a Hunter three on the other end. Key got a steal on the next defensive possession, taking it coast-to-coast and drawing a foul on Gibbs. He missed the first and made the second to put Virginia up 24-19 with 2:30 to play. A long rebound by Key led to an offensive possession rife with passing that ended with a Jerome three from the corner.
Another three-pointer from Harvey cut Virginia’s lead to five, and Guy missed on a three-point attempt on the other end. Mooney’s first field goal of the game came on Notre Dame’s next possession — another three — as the Irish cut the score to 27-25. Jack Salt hauled in a pass from Hunter, made a strong move, and finished at the rim with 12 seconds left to give the Cavaliers a 29-25 lead at halftime.
Virginia shot 38% from the field and 33% from three in the first half, led by Guy with 10 points. The Hoos successfully got inside on the zone for kick-outs for three, but they only converted 5-of-15 from outside. After four games with double-digit turnovers, Virginia had none in the first half against Notre Dame’s more passive zone.
Notre Dame got all their first-half scoring from three players as Harvey and Gibbs each had 10 and Mooney added five in the first half. Like the Cavaliers, Notre Dame went 5-for-15 from beyond the arc, keeping them in the game over the first 20 minutes. The Irish had five first half turnovers but Virginia got just one point off of them (Key’s free throw).
Mooney got a hook shot to go over Diakite to open the second half and keep pressure on the Cavaliers. Guy responded with a step-back two to return Virginia’s lead to four. Diakite erased another offensive rebound by the Irish with a block, and the Hoos used a series of gorgeous passes to get Guy open for the three and the seven point lead.
Virginia had several opportunities to expand their lead, but Prentiss Hubb got into the scoring column with a three to cut it back to four. It didn’t last long as Hunter got his second three of the game to fall, and then followed it up with a dish to Diakite for the easy jam after Hubb missed on the other end.
Nate Laszewski cut the lead to 39-32 with two makes from the free throw line, and Key couldn’t get a layup to fall. Laszewski connected on a three on Notre Dame’s next possession, keeping the pressure on Virginia and cutting the lead to four points yet again. A missed three by Key and a turnover by Jerome led to a three from Gibbs, all-but erasing Virginia’s nine point lead.
The defense stood strong and Hunter stole the ball, eventually leading to a dunk from Diakite to put the Hoos up 41-38 with 11:07 to play. Diakite’s third foul sent Laszewski to the line for two (where he made both) and Diakite to the bench. Hunter drew a foul going to the basket, and made both to restore the three point lead at 43-40.
Outstanding defense from the Hoos led to a miss from Gibbs and Clark’s fifth rebound of the game. On the other end, Hunter hit an elbow-jumper, giving Virginia a modicum of breathing room at 45-40 with 9:44 to play.
Gibbs somehow got a tough runner to go past Salt, and Jerome was called for a travel on offense, giving Notre Dame a chance to tie the game or pull back within one with just under 8:30 to play. A dunk from Mooney cut the lead to 45-44, but Hunter again answered with a jumper from the center.
Guy pushed Virginia’s lead back to six with 6:40 to play on his fourth made three of the game, and Hubb missed a three to give the Hoos a chance to build it out further. Hunter was fouled going to the basket and made both to put the Cavaliers up 52-44 with 5:35 to play.
Mooney was unable to get a three to fall for the Irish, giving the Hoos the ball right back. Once again, Hunter drew a foul, getting to the line and hitting both and giving Virginia its first double-digit lead of the game. Hubb ended a 5:06 scoring drought for the Irish with a dunk to pull back within eight, but Virginia was unable to get it back to double-digits despite a couple good looks at the basket.
Two free throws from Gibbs made it a six point game with just under two minutes to go to keep the Irish within striking distance. Key couldn’t convert, but Hunter pulled in his 10th rebound of the game to secure the double-double. He was fouled in the back court and missed the front end of the 1-and-1, leaving the door open for the Irish.
Hubb took it to the rack to close within 54-50, then the Irish got a steal on the inbounds for a layup to close within two. Virginia broke the press and barely got it over mid-court in the 10 seconds allotted before Guy was fouled and sent to the line. He made both, but Mooney got behind the defense for a dunk to keep the pressure on.
Guy went back to the line, making both to make it 58-54 with 11.4 seconds to play. Another miss from Notre Dame led to a foul on Jerome, who iced the game at the line with two seconds left.
Next up, Virginia hits the road to face Virginia Tech on Monday night at 7pm.