After a quick start, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish couldn’t hold off the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday, losing 73-62. The Fighting Irish saw a 19-10 lead turn into a 27-23 deficit after the Tar Heels went on a 17-4 run to close out the half.
In the second half, the Tar Heels led by as many as 16 on their way to the double-digit victory. After the game, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey and several players discussed the frustrating loss.
“[North Carolina] is really good and playing well,” said Brey. “Their size around the basket really bothered us. They defended us well again. We turned it over 17 times, and we can’t absorb that along with their 15 offensive rebounds. I loved how we got out to a good start. They kind of played really well to end of the [first] half, and we could never get any rhythm or confidence back to end the second half. That program has a lot of big bodies, and they always have. You’ve got to take the edge off the paint if you’re going to have a chance.”
Senior guard Eric Atkins said the second half in particular was a let down.
“It’s disappointing. We had a great start to the game. They were playing at our pace and we weren’t turning the ball over. We were being very good and efficient with the ball, but they picked up the pressure at that point, and we started getting sloppy with the ball.”
Senior center Garrick Sherman, who led the Irish with 17 points, spoke about the difficulties that the Tar Heels pose on offense.
“They’ve always been good on offense. That is just what North Carolina does. Every year, you know what you’re getting with them and they always run the offense well. The back screens make it tough and all those lobs you have to defend. So they’re a good offensive team. We did a good job in the first half keeping everything in front of us, but in the second half they got a lot of easy ones.”
Notre Dame will try to right the ship on Tuesday at home against the Clemson Tigers.