With the crowd energized and the second half just starting, No. 11 Georgetown needed to get some defensive stops to swing momentum in its favor.
Unfortunately for the Hoyas, Notre Dame senior guard Ben Hansbrough didn’t care for their plans, as he ripped through the Georgetown defense on the first possession of the half, and most of the possessions that followed, en route to 19 second-half points.
On Tuesday night, down at the half to Louisville, the Hoyas had played lock-down defense after the break, ripping off a 24-3 run for a comeback win. On Saturday, that smothering defense was nowhere to be found as the Irish shot 71.4 percent from the floor in the second half in a [78-64 win](https://www.thehoya.com/sports/irish-upset-hoyas-freeman-ailing/).
“It’s a different game, it’s not the same game,” sophomore center Greg Monroe said about the difference between Tuesday’s game and Saturday’s. “It’s not the same team. [Hansbrough] came out, we had to get stops to start off the half to get the momentum on our side, and he made plays.”
Having survived with its defense on Tuesday night, that same strength let the Hoyas down.
It certainly didn’t help that junior guard Austin Freeman had a stomach virus, needed an IV before the game and never looked like himself throughout.
But whether it was a sick Freeman or a bench player mixed in with the starting five, the Hoyas couldn’t get stops. It didn’t matter whether they played man-to-man or 2-3 zone, the results tended to stay the same.
In the first half the Irish were a woeful 3-of-14 from three-point range, but with long rebounds falling beyond the reach of the Hoyas, the Irish managed 10 second chance points and held a 10-1 advantage in offensive rebounds at the half. The Irish, who held a 17-7 overall advantage on the glass in the first half, did all this without leading rebound Luke Harangody, who was sidelined with a deep bone bruise.
Head Coach John Thompson III said that he emphasized rebounding at halftime.
“That was the discussion at halftime,” Thompson said. “[Notre Dame] came in focused [on rebounding], they came in intent on that.”
In the second half the Hoyas held up much better on the glass, but they started to give up layups and open three-point attempt. Despite the Hoyas’ attempts at tracking shooters, the Irish were able to slip away for open looks time after time. Notre Dame went 5-of-8 from three-point range in the second half and 15-of-21 from the floor.
“When you play against Notre Dame that’s what you have to be able to do,” Thompson said about tracking shooters. “Believe it or not, we wanted to take away the threes.”
No series exemplified just what kind of day the Hoyas had better than the one following the official timeout with 7:42 to play.
The Hoyas looked to be making another one of their second-half comebacks. Down 50-38 minutes before, the Hoyas stormed back with an 8-0 to cut the lead to four. An offensive set in which the Hoyas tried to get it to Monroe didn’t work out as he got tied up, broke free and then threw the ball away.
After the ensuing media timeout, with under 10 on the shot clock, Hansbrough missed a layup – his only miss of the second half. What should have been a huge stop for the Hoyas turned into a nightmare as junior forward Tyrone Nash came away with the offensive rebound and kicked out to senior guard Tory Jackson who drained a dagger of a three-pointer from the top of the key to kick the lead back to seven.
That possession would be the first of five straight possessions in which the Irish came away with three points, either off of three-point field goals, and-ones or, on one occasion, junior forward Tim Abromaitis’ three foul shots after he was fouled attempting a desperation three.
By the time the dust had settled, a four point game with 7:30 to play had become a 16 point game 3:30 later thanks to a 16-3 Irish run.
“We made big shots to hold them off,” Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey said. “We’re just thrilled to be 8-8 in this league”
“That’s what good players, that’s what good teams do,” Thompson said about Notre Dame’s run.
The Hoyas field-goal percentage defense now stands at 41.4 percent this season which is the worst it has been since the 2005-2006 season. Last season the Hoyas held opponents to 40.7 percent shooting.
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Hoyas either as they head to West Virginia on Monday, where they’ll need to keep the Mountaineer shooters quiet or else they will find themselves in a raucous and hostile Coliseum.
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