Another early exit for Irish at NCAA tourney
LaMond Pope 648-3090 or firstname.lastname@example.org March 22, 2013 11:05PM
DAYTON, OH - MARCH 22: Naz Long #15 of the Iowa State Cyclones drives to the basket against Jack Cooley #45 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first half during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 22, 2013 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Updated: March 22, 2013 11:44PM
DAYTON, Ohio – Qualifying for the NCAA tournament hasn’t been a problem in recent years for Notre Dame.
Getting out of the first weekend alive has been the issue.
The seventh-seeded Irish suffered yet another early exit Friday, falling to No. 10 Iowa State 76-58 in a second round West Regional game at University of Dayton Arena.
“This is a hump we can’t get over yet,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said, “but we’ll keep trying to figure it out.”
Turnovers. A long shooting drought. The inability to slow down the Cyclones’ offensive attack. Take your pick. Each contributed to the loss.
This was Notre Dame’s fourth consecutive appearance in the tournament, the program’s longest streak since six straight trips form 1985-1990.
During this most recent run, Notre Dame has won just one tournament game. That came against Akron in the second round of the 2011 tournament at the United Center. Notre Dame was a seeded second that season and lost to 10th-seeded Florida State in the third round. Note Dame last reached a regional semifinal in 2003. Each of the past six tournament trips ended in the first weekend.
“That’s what keeps me up at night,” Brey said. “That’s what keeps me motivated. And that’s what’s very extremely disappointing about tonight. We’ll go back to the drawing board and try to figure it out.”
Ten continues to be an unlucky number for the Irish. This is the third straight time a 10th seed has ended Notre Dame’s season. This was the worst loss of the bunch, and the third-largest margin of defeat for Notre Dame in a tournament game.
Georges Niang led Iowa State with 19 points. Melvin Ejim added 17 points for the Cyclones (23-11), who advance to face No. 2 Ohio State Sunday.
“It’s a hard one to swallow,” Brey said.
Tom Knight and Jack Cooley led Notre Dame (25-10) with 14 points.
The Irish had 17 turnovers, 14 of which came in the first half. Notre Dame entered the game averaging 11.1 turnovers per game.
“It was just surprising, just the mental mistakes that we usually don’t make,” guard Jerian Grant said. “We picked the worst time to make them.”
Notre Dame had two field goals in the final 11:17 of the first half.
Iowa State, meanwhile, found balance in the paint and from the outside. The Cyclones finished with nine 3-pointers and 32 points in the paint.
The Cyclones built a 35-23 lead at halftime. Things didn’t get any better for Notre Dame after the break.
Iowa State made seven of its first eight shots from the floor in the second half on the way to the blowout.
The packed arena began thinning out with less than nine minutes remaining.
The fans knew another Irish season had come to an end.
“Obviously, we want to get past the first round,” Knight said. “… It really hurts we couldn’t do it for our seniors and for the rest of the guys on the team.”