Notre Dame fails to finish at Boston College, stays winless in ACC

One of those seasons?

One of those teams?

With another Atlantic Coast Conference game in its sights, a mostly fuzzy finish left Notre Dame’s ultra-veteran men’s basketball team still looking for its first ACC win of the year after four tries.

Two of those losses were by a point and a third came Tuesday night to Boston College, in front of 4,194 at the Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass., 70-63, after the Irish led for all but 2:41.

“Heartbreaking,” said the Irish head coach Mike Brey, his team 8-7 overall. “Because we had ourselves in position … We just couldn’t finish, but that’s kind of us. We’re not quite — we’re a little fragile at finishing …”

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There were obstacles.

Forward Ven-Allen Lubin, a 6-8 freshman averaging 17 minutes, six points and 4.5 rebounds a game, played just one minute after injuring an ankle in a scrum under the bucket in the first half. He couldn’t return, and Brey said, “I don’t know how long he’ll be out.”

Matt Zonea 6-9 junior forward averaging just 1.7 minutes coming in, filled in for nine of Lubin’s minutes, getting a bucket and a rebound.

Coming into the game, city senior Dan Goodwin was “sick as a dog,” Brey said, but Goodwin still managed to stay on the floor for 35 minutes.

Goodwin was playing in his 141st game, tying Rex Pflueger for the most in program history.

“You know, he’s never missed a game,” Brey said. “He’s one of the toughest kids I’ve ever been around.”

Goodwin had a great first half on 6-for-7 shooting for 15 points, but he had just one point in the second half.

Against an 8-7 BC team that is 2-2 in the league (a win over Virginia Tech and losses to Duke and Syracuse), the Irish led by as many as 10 in the second half and seemingly were in control with freshman JJ Starling going to the line with 4:08 to play and the Irish up 58-53.

Sterling, who had 12 points in the first half and finished with 16, would hit just one of two — and then miss two more a minute later.

“JJ played great,” Brey said of his freshman guard who had zero turnovers in 29 minutes and went 6-for-14 from the field. “He had some tough luck with the free throw line, but we’re going to go to him, and I thought he played great. I just feel for him there at the end of the game.”

In a second half in which the Irish shot a paltry 31% from the field (40% for the game), they scored just five points over the final 4:08.

On the other end, the Irish defense was caving.

Mason Madsen juked Goodwin for a wide-open 14-footer for a 62-61 edge at the 1:38 mark and Jaeden Zackery blew by Cormac Ryan for a layup for a three-point lead with a minute to go.

“I knew I could get downhill coming off a screen and make them switch or stay with me, and we took advantage of that,” Zackery said.

While the Irish offense floundered with contested 3-point misses by Ryan and Goodwin in the final minute, Boston College built the lead and put it away from the free throw line, going 4-for-4 over the final 33.6 seconds.

Forward Prince Aligbe grabs one of Boston College's 41 rebounds in a win over Notre Dame.

Forward Prince Aligbe grabs one of Boston College’s 41 rebounds in a win over Notre Dame. (Eric Canha – USA Today Sports)

Goodwin, averaging 11.4 points coming in, went 3-for-3 from the 3-point line in the first half to help the Irish edge ahead 38-34 at the break, but Goodwin was 0-for-2 and 0-for- 5 overall in the second half.

And Brey could see some potential long-term problems brewing in the first half.

The Eagles, 310th in the country in field goal shooting coming in at 41.3%, shot 60% from the field in the first half.

“We haven’t defended as well as we need to,” Brey said at halftime on the ACC Network. “If we can score 80, we may be able to escape tonight.”

A big part of the first half trouble was the 7-foot, 250-pound center Quinten Posta transfer from Mississippi State who was playing in only his second game after dealing with a foot injury.

He kept the Eagles close, going 5-for-6 from the field for 10 points in the first 20 minutes. He also had four of his nine rebounds and was the player who landed on Lubin’s ankle.

The Irish did a lot of double-teaming in the lane in the second half to shut him down (he went 0-for-3 from the field), but it opened up other lanes.

Boston College wound up at 52% for the game – despite going 2-for-12 on 3s – with 38 points in the paint. Notre Dame had only 24.

The Irish cleaned up the turnover issues it had in the loss to Miami (17) and had just five against Boston College, but it couldn’t force more than nine against the Eagles, who averaged 12.6 a game coming in.

The Irish also got beat up on the boards, 41-28, with eight of those BC rebounds coming on the offensive end.

The next Notre Dame attempt to break the ACC skid comes Saturday at North Carolina (9-5, 1-2) at 11:30 am (ESPN2).

Box score: Boston College 70, Notre Dame 63

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