You could feel that something special was going to happen Wednesday night at Purcell Pavilion. Those in attendance were hoping to see if Coach Brey could lead the Fighting Irish to magical win 394, topping Irish coaching legend Digger Phelps. Among all the excitement, there was a sense of concern as well. The day before, we learned that the Irish would be without Captain Bonzie Colson due to a broken foot.
However, ACC play stops for no one. So let’s jump into the game recap and see how the team fared against the NC State.
The Fighting Irish had a reversal of sorts on Wednesday night. Typically, the Irish get off to a slow start in the first half, that wasn’t the case last night. T.J. Gibbs started the Irish off with a quick 3-pointer, followed by a monster slam dunk by Martinas Geben and a 3-pointer by D.J. Harvey.
Despite the strong start, it wasn’t as easy a game for the Irish at it appeared. NC State played a stifling half court pressure that the Irish needed to figure out. Then, half way through the first half, Matt Farrell went down with an apparent foot injury. He went to the locker room for the remainder of the half while the Irish built a lead as high as 15 points in the half. All things considered, this was one of the best halves of basketball by the Irish to date this season.
The Irish took a 48-36 lead into the locker room. Harvey led all scorers with 13 points (3-4 from 3-point range), Gibbs was next with 11 points after a full 20 minutes. To backup the teams play here are some other great stats for the Irish: 18 points in the paint, 10 points off of turnovers, 19-31 from the field and 9-18 from 3-point range.
The second half was completely opposite from the first as the typical Irish quick start out of the locker room was non-existent. The defense, however, stepped up. John Mooney and Geben hand some great blocks on defense. To showcase the defensive effort, the Irish did not allow the Wolfpack to score until 4:53 into the second half and allowed only eight points through the first twelve minutes. The Wolfpack tried to apply the same half court pressure from the first half, but the Irish would have none of it.
The Purcell Pavilion roared to life with 1:00 remaining as those in attendance knew they were witnessing a great moment of ND Basketball History. The Irish won this game 88-58 and Coach Brey would win his 394th game as Notre Dame Men’s Basketball Coach. T.J. Gibbs led all scorers with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 3-6 from 3-point range and played 38 minutes. D.J. Harvey had a career high 17 points along with 3 rebounds in 30 minutes of play. Pflueger had a great night as well. Pflueger came up short of a career night with 16 points, 4 rebounds.
Farrell would not return to the game after the intermission, instead vocally leading his team from the bench along with Colson.
Following the game there was a ceremony at half court to honor Coach Brey accompanied by a video presentation about this career at ND. Coach Phelps presented Coach Brey with the game ball an AD Jack Swarbrick presented Coach Brey with a replica banner of the banner to be forever hung in the rafters of Purcell Pavilion.
The post game interview was one of joy and sorrow. The media gathered in the press room knew the joy of what was Coach Brey’s win, but they were wondering behind all of that, what was going on with Farrell and his injury. Coaches opening statement to the press “What a way to get to get there, to 394 and to 2-0 [in the ACC]. And what I told our team was, when I think back, the record breaking game we lost Bonzie Colson the day before. We lost Matt Farrell half way through the first. And our group just responded. Just really proud of them. We got 394 off the board. We can keep chasing some ACC stuff and love the position this team is in.”
The discussion shifted to talk about Bonzie Colson’s broken foot. Coach said “Bonzie’s injury happened at practice on Friday. He felt he strained something. He moved around fine and scored 22, unknown it was a broken foot. I feel sorry for Bonzie. I feel for college basketball. Bonzie Colson is the most popular player in college basketball and maybe the best. Coaches love him. Media loves him. He is a great story. College basketball lost a great story and I am hurting for him. I told his father we will not rush him back. I am really sensitive to being healthy and fresh for him to make the NBA.”
Next up for the Irish is Syracuse. the Irish will be on the road Saturday with a 3:15 start. Congratulations to Coach Brey on 394, and best wishes and a speedy recovery for Colson and Farrell. Cheers and #GoIrish!!!