Juniors Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell led the way with 18 and 16 points, respectively.
There wasn’t a single fast-break point in the game, but it was played at a faster pace than we’ve come to expect from the Tigers in years past.
The Fighting Irish (26-9) almost squandered an 11-point second half lead.
Fortunately for Princeton, Notre Dame didn’t shoot much better in the second half. They ran through the regular season unbeaten, and then won the first-ever Ivy League tournament by knocking off Penn in the Palestra (in overtime) and then defending champion Yale in the title game. Vasturia pulled down the rebound, hit a free throw and Notre Dame escaped.
In the ACC tournament, they won the first two games against Virginia and Florida State but lost the final to Duke 75-69 on Saturday, March 11.
“When the lights have been brightest, we’ve been in a rhythm lately where we just love it, embrace it and deliver in it”, coach Mike Brey said.
But on the day before St. Patrick’s, the Fighting Irish were a hair much for the Tigers. The college basketball odds for the game have the Fighting Irish favored by a couple of possessions to pick up the win. The Tigers moved within two, 53-51. on a Spencer Weisz drive with 4:45 to play. The Tigers got within one on a tip in by Pete Miller with 19 seconds left and after a defensive stop had a shot for the victory. Steven Cook scored to cut it to one, 55-54, with 2:34 left, and Princeton got the ball back with a chance to go ahead.
“We’ve been in games like that”. “I’m so happy to be their coach”. The Tigers raged back late in the second half but were unable to complete a comeback to advance into the next round. While he certainly isn’t a leader in any statistical category for the Irish, he’s a fantastic utility man that can score, rebound and pass effectively when he’s on the floor.
Princeton had numerous scoring opportunities but failed to capitalize on open looks at the basket.
Those players included Farrell, the usually clutch-shooting point guard, who hit six of nine for 16 points.
Funnily enough-and fitting for the opener to the madness-Notre Dame missed a free throw while up one, only for Princeton to miss a game-winning try from deep.
Christie’s daughter Sarah is a student manager on the team. Christie is also a long-time friend of Brey.
It had the feeling of another 5-12 upset before Princeton’s bid for a game-winner clanked off the rim with two seconds left.
A banged-up Pflueger scored four points down the stretch to put the Irish up six at the half. A TV sideline reporter said Pflueger asked a fan to take a picture of his stitches because he thought they looked cool.