No. 20 Notre Dame, on the road against Miami on Thursday night, shot 37 percent, got out-rebounded by nine and had 12 shots blocked.
That had all the ingredients for a loss to Miami. It would have not only been the Hurricanes’ best win to date, it’s importance was magnified when you consider they are about to hit the road for three games against three top-50 teams.
However, the Fighting Irish’ free throw-shooting, turnovers (or lack thereof) and decision-making resulted in a 67-62 win over the ‘Canes.
Matt Farrell finished with 15 points and six assists. V.J. Beachem added 13. Davon Reed led all scorers in a losing effort.
Tied at 28-all after the break, Notre Dame broke open a 10-point lead twice in the second half, but in a game in which both teams shot the ball poorly, Miami’s athleticism helped spark a rally and take a 61-57 lead.
Notre Dame would knot the score at 61-all with 1:35 remaining after a pair of Bonzie Colson free throws.
This is when Notre Dame’s experience and decision-making proved to be the x-factor. In a tie game, Miami senior guard Davon Reed coughed up the ball right into the Rex Pflueger’s hands. Farrell, the junior point guard who had to replace the NBA Draft who also had to replace the NBA Draft pick, had carved up the Miami defense in the second half and continued in the final moments. Taking advantage of a defense that had not yet set up, Farrell got into the lane before finding the streaking Beachem on the baseline for the reverse lay-in.
After Ja’Quan Newton split a pair of free throws, Farrell once again got into the lane, kicking to the baseline where Steve Vasturia, another experienced senior, made another winning play, driving to the bucket for the layup.
Miami never got a potential game-tying shot off, as the inbounds pass bounced off of Anthony Lawrence.
Notre Dame sunk 12 of 14 free throws (four straight in the last 95 seconds of regulation) and committed just six turnovers on the night, only one of which came after halftime.
Even on an off-shooting night on the road, Notre Dame still had the experience to close out a close game. That’s been the theme through its undefeated start in league play, and reason why you have to like the Irish moving forward.
The Irish opened the conference schedule by beating Pitt by one in overtime on the road. They then held off Louisville at home despite Beachem scoring just two points. They followed by overcoming a slow start to top Clemson.
They’ll have two more chances to do so coming up, as the Irish close out a three-game road trip against Virginia Tech and No. 9 Florida State.