Irish hold off Clemson in second OT
By LaMond Pope 713-2691 or firstname.lastname@example.org February 11, 2014 8:38PM
Clemson guard Jaron Blossomgame, center, shoots as Notre Dame forwards Tom Knight, left, and Zach Auguste defend in first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)
Updated: March 13, 2014 6:46AM
SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame guard Eric Atkins looked at the Purcell Pavilion scoreboard on a couple of occasions and thought “we got this.”
But Clemson kept coming back.
Steve Vasturia finally buried the Tigers, nailing two 3-pointers in the second overtime to help the Irish to a 68-64 victory.
“In a season of crazy stuff happening, that was crazy,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “I’m proud of our group. We had it won a couple of times. We handed it back a couple of times. We found a way to win it.”
The Irish won without the services of freshman guard Demetrius Jackson.
Brey said Jackson missed the game because of “poor academic habits.”
“You get to come back to basketball when those habits get more consistent,” Brey said. “We’ll get him some time to get caught up and if he’s caught up at the end of the week we’ll get him back to practice and go from there.”
Brey was asked if Jackson had any intentions on transferring.
“I think Demetrius Jackson is very committed to being at Notre Dame,” Brey said. “It’s a matter of just getting back into a good academic rhythm that I’ve seen before.”
Even without Jackson, the Irish looked like they were in good shape near the end of regulation. Notre Dame led by five points with 1:38 left. Clemson turned three steals into five points to force overtime.
The Irish (13-12, 4-8 ACC) led by four points in the first overtime after Pat Connaughton completed a conventional three-point play with 24 seconds remaining.
Clemson (15-8, 6-5) clawed back again. Landry Nnoko stole a pass, got fouled and made two free throws with 8.4 seconds left to send the game to a second overtime.
Vasturia made sure the Irish didn’t let this one slip away.
“I was open,” said Vasturia, who had 11 points. “I missed a couple before that. But I was confident and able to knock them down.”
Vasturia’s first 3-pointer gave Notre Dame a 63-62 lead with 3:42 to go. His second put the Irish ahead 66-64 with 1:02 remaining.
“He’s wanted to take big shots. He’s a pretty fearless guy. He’s made some big ones this season for us,” Brey said.
Connaughton made two free throws with 18.3 seconds left to ice the victory. It’s just the third win in the last 11 games for Notre Dame.
The Irish overcame losing the late leads and a 30-point effort by Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels.
Atkins had 16 points. Zach Auguste matched a season-high with 14 points. He collected a career-high 12 rebounds. Connaughton scored 13 points.
“It shows that we’re a resilient group,” Atkins said.