Irish hold off Tech in double overtime
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Notre Dame coach Mike Brey called it “circle rip”. Georgia Tech called it a dagger.
By any name, Pat Connaughton’s rise-up 3-pointer in Saturday’s second overtime was too much for the Yellow Jackets to overcome.
Connaughton came alive in the second overtime with five points, two rebounds, a steal and a block, and Jerian Grant finished with 24 points to lead No. 14 Notre Dame to an 83-76 comeback win over Georgia Tech.
After missing a pair of free throws late in the first overtime that could have won it, Connaughton followed his 3 with a layup for a five-point lead with three minutes to play, and all the momentum the Irish needed to close the game out.
“He was so mad about the free throws, he’s so competitive, that he’s the kind of guy that’s gonna answer back and try and win the game,” Brey said. “I love the fearlessness.”
Connaughton scored only five points in the previous 45 minutes, but was ready when Brey called on him in the second overtime.
“I think one thing that makes us so dangerous is we’ve got guys that can get going at any time,” Connaughton said. “Jerian was in my ear the whole game, ‘Be more aggressive. Be more aggressive.’ I put it on myself for not doing that in the second half.”
After not scoring in the first half, Steve Vasturia added 17 points for Notre Dame (14-1, 2-0 ACC), which won its 10th straight. The Irish also matched their previous best start under Brey.
Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 20 points to lead the Yellow Jackets (9-4, 0-1) in their ACC opener. Charles Mitchell added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
“We played with great energy and great effort,” said Tech coach Brian Gregory. “We just couldn’t make quite enough plays.”
The Irish went up six in the first overtime on Vasturia’s 3-pointer, but hit just 2 of 6 free throws in the final minute. Demarco Cox’s offensive tip in with 11 seconds left sent the game to the second extra period.
Georges-Hunt’s baseline drive and layup put Georgia Tech ahead, 59-58, with 37 seconds to play in regulation. Grant tied it by hitting one of two free throws with 25 seconds left.
Georgia Tech had the last shot to win it in regulation, but Georges-Hunt lost the ball on a drive to the hoop, leading to overtime.
In regulation, Demetrius Jackson grabbed Notre Dame’s first offensive rebound of the game with 13:43 to play, and his putback started a 7-1 Irish run to get them within two. Jackson finished with 11.
Grant’s huge dunk over Josh Heath and 3-point play cut the Georgia Tech lead to one at 10:03.
“I don’t get too many of those, but that was exciting,” Grant said. “It boosted the whole team, the bench, the whole arena. So when you can get a play like that it can give you a lot of momentum.”
Grant’s feed to Connaughton along the baseline for another dunk gave Notre Dame its first lead of the game, 47-46 with 9:13 to play.
Georgia Tech, last in the ACC in 3-point shooting, hit its first three 3s in the opening 2:30 of the game to take a 13-2 lead.
The Irish, who lead the league in 3-point shooting, hit only 1 of 7 in the first half. They were also third in the nation in fewest turnovers per game coming in, but had their average of 9 by halftime. Grant accounted for five turnovers himself.
Despite their offensive struggles, the Irish only trailed by four points at halftime after Jackson’s one-handed leaner with 32 seconds to go.
Notre Dame: The Irish play three games in the next seven days, and will face Georgia Tech again in 11 days, with the second meeting in Atlanta slated for Jan. 14.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets play four of their first six ACC games on the road.
Zach Auguste, Notre Dame’s main low post threat, picked up his fourth foul with 4:03 left in regulation, but managed to finish the game and contribute 13 points in 25 minutes. His bucket in the paint with two minutes left in the second overtime put the Irish up seven.
“When we put him back in there, instead of being (ticked) off about playing time, or foul trouble, he really delivered for us,” Brey said of Auguste.
Notre Dame travels to North Carolina on Monday.
Georgia Tech hosts Syracuse on Wednesday.