Notre Dame thoroughly outplayed by North Carolina

It’s become increasingly clear that this season is a lost cause for Notre Dame. Perhaps the best evidence of that so far was its trip to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina. Despite initially looking strong out of the gate, the Irish couldn’t keep that going, and their 81-64 loss left them still searching for their first ACC win.

The Irish (8-8, 0-5) appeared ready to give the Tar Heels (11-5, 3-2) a game, taking the lead on Marcus Hammond’s tiebreaking 3 near the midway point of the first half. That quickly changed as the Tar Heels cracked down on their defense and won nearly every meaningful rebound battle.

With Ven-Allen Lubin out with an ankle injury, the already-small Irish badly missed his height as they lost the battles in blocks (6-1) and rebounds (45-32). That undoubtedly kept the game less close than it otherwise might have been.

The Irish were stretched out even further in the second half when Cormac Ryan was ejected for a flagrant 2 that he committed while being dunked on by Puff Johnson. Tempers briefly flared, but nothing else of consequence happened. Ryan started heading back to the locker room before the call officially was made, indicating that he knew what was about to happen.

Armando Bacot lived up to his billing as the ACC’s leading scorer and rebounder, leading all players with 21 points and 13 boards. He also was one of three Tar Heels with two blocks. Caleb Love, an equally lethal scorer, had 18 points. RJ Davis scored 13 points and stole the ball three times, though the conference’s leading free-throw shooter was held to 1 of 2 from the charity stripe. Johnson totaled 11 points off the bench.

Nate Laszewski led the Irish with 17 points and eight rebounds. Dane Goodwin and JJ Starling scored 10 points apiece.

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Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire