Sometimes it's easy to break down a game. We played decent defense, average offense, and got killed on the boards. If we shot better free throws (10-20) and had some heart under the basket, this could have been a good win. We didn't and now Saturday is do or die.
Allowing an opponent to shoot 44% from the field is not too bad, especially for a Notre Dame team. If the Irish had kept West Virginia to one shot per possession, it would have been a very good outing. Instead, the Mountaineers grabbed 44 rebounds (17 on offense) to 32 for the Irish. 17 second chances. 17 possessions that should have ended with no points for Bob Huggins' team.
There's a reason Huggins never loses when his team shoots better than their opponents from the field. You know a Bob Huggins team will always outwork the competition on the glass and play tough. They did just that tonight.
Tory Jackson had a really rough game. 6 points, but no assists or rebounds. He's usually the kind of guy to help out on the glass. That could have been a good addition in this game. No assists from a point guard? Not acceptable no matter how many points you score.
McAlarney missed a few open looks, finishing with 12 points on 2-8 from beyond the arc. He really was a defensive liability, however, letting Alex Ruoff get free for several of his 24 points. His lack of quickness will be a problem at the next level, where you have to create your own shots and match-up some of the most athletic guys on the planet.
Ryan Ayers scored 8 points with 4 assists. Zach Hillesland scored 2 points and grabbed 6 rebounds 27 foul shortened minutes. We're not going to win with only two players scoring in double figures. Ayers was a big factor against Louisville and we really could have used that tonight. 6 rebounds is a good night for Zach, but it is never acceptable to have three guys on the other team (two with fewer minutes) outrebound your power forward.
Luke Harangody picked up from a tough first half to carry the team in the second period. 26 points, 13 rebounds. Missed more free throws than usual, but was a good performer in a hostile environment. Just like during the losing streak, Luke did his best.
Why only 9 minutes for Ty Nash? The tough sophomore grabbed 4 boards in limited minutes. In a game where rebounding was the difference between winning and losing, how can Ryan Ayers play 35 minutes? Move Hillesland to the 3 and let Nash bang down low. Jonathan Peoples scored eight points early on, but was not a factor for the final three-fourths of the game. Zeller and Scott with only token minutes.
We knew going in that this would be a long shot and it is not the end of the world. Frustrating? Absolutely. A win tonight would have been huge and it was there for the taking.
Now Providence is must win. They lost by 18 at Louisville tonight. 4-1 the rest of the way to feel confident on Selection Sunday.