Notre Dame men’s basketball returned to the win column for the first time in over a month on Saturday with a 74-66 win over Virginia Tech. Coming into the game, Notre Dame had lost its last six contests against the Hokies, including the last game of former head coach Mike Brey’s tenure in last season’s ACC Tournament.
Freshman guard Braeden Shrewsberry had an especially impressive night on both sides of the court. Shrewsberry finished with 12 points on 4-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Shrewsberry played especially well alongside fellow freshman guard Markus Burton on defense. The backcourt played aggressive man defense while pushing the tempo and driving the transition offense.
Burton’s aggressive defense led to a career high six steals. He added 16 points, despite missing all five threes he attempted.
The Irish shot 54.2% in the second half, while tallying their second-highest assist count of the year with 14. They recorded their second-lowest turnover total of the season with eight and managed to outrebound Virginia Tech 34-28.
Notre Dame had to battle to stay in the game, though. Even though head coach Micah Shrewsberry’s defense played well in the first 10 minutes, a hot Virginia Tech shooting performance allowed the Hokies to build an early lead. Virginia Tech hit five of its first six three-point attempts. At the same time, late in the first half, the Irish went on a 1-12 shooting stretch to extend the Tech lead to 9. Virginia Tech shot 57.7% in the first half.
Notre Dame came out of the locker room ready to play in the second half. The Irish got Kebba Njie involved quickly. The sophomore forward scored seven points in just a few minutes, helping the Irish extend their dominance in the last few minutes of the first half to go on a 14-0 run. Notre Dame never fell behind after that, as the Irish closed the game with a big, confidence-boosting win.
Micah Shrewsberry was thrilled with the outcome, giving all of the credit to his players. He said he was happy to his young squad’s reaction to the big win.
“That’s cool for me to see, and how excited that they are for each other is all that matters,” Shrewsberry said.
The fans showed up as well with 7,394 in attendance, including many students who came out for a T-shirt giveaway. Burton thanked the fans after the game.
“Today we showed the fans we kept fighting and we’re still here,” he said.
The Irish look to build momentum Wednesday when they welcome Georgia Tech to Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame beat the Yellow Jackets in the teams’ first meeting of the season, a 75-68 Irish overtime win.
The Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day showdown tips off at 7:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.