Connaugton leads Irish to 70-63 win over Va. Tech
NOTRE DAME — Pat Connaughton scored 21 points, Demetrius Jackson added 13 and Notre Dame ended a three-game losing streak, beating Virginia Tech 70-63 Sunday night.
The Irish (11-7, 2-3 ACC) ended their losing streak on a night when former coach Digger Phelps was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor on the 40th anniversary of his second-ranked Notre Dame squad beating UCLA 71-70 to end the Bruins’ 88-game winning streak. The Hokies (8-9, 1-4) lost their fourth straight and for the sixth time in seven tries.
The Hokies, who trailed by 15 at halftime, cut the lead to 53-51 when Devin Wilson hit a 3-pointer and followed that up with a free throw. But the Irish responded quickly with a pair of 3-pointers by Connaughton and Steve Vasturia.
The Hokies cut the lead to 68-63 with 20 seconds left on a free throw by Cadarian Raines, but couldn’t get any closer.
Raines and Wilson both had career-high 20 points for the Hokies. Leading scorer Jarell Eddie struggled for the Hokies for the second straight game, finishing with two points on 1-of-5 shooting. He was 1-of-6 shooting for three points in a loss to Clemson on Wednesday.
Eric Atkins added 12 points for the Irish, marking the seventh straight game that he scored in double figures. Garrick Sherman finished with eight points, ending a streak of 14 straight games scoring in double figures.
Connaughton added eight rebounds for Notre Dame. The Irish forced 17 turnovers, leading to 14 points for the Irish.
The 63-points scored by the Hokies marked just the second time in the past seven games that the Hokies broke the 60-point mark. Virginia Tech was coming off a 56-49 loss to Clemson, the fewest points the Hokies have scored in James Johnson’s two seasons as coach.
The Hokies took the lead briefly at 7-6 early in the first half when C.J. Barksdale hit a 14-foot jumper, but the Irish quickly responded with a 9-0 run to go up 15-7 on a basket inside on a drive by Atkins. The Hokies cut the lead to 21-18 when Raines hit a jumper with 6:15 left in the first half. The Irish ended the half on a 10-0, leading 39-24 at intermission after Jackson hit a 3-pointer.
More than two dozen of Phelps’ former players attended the game Sunday to see their coach become the fourth person associated with the men’s team to be inducted into the university’s Ring of Honor, joining former players Luke Harangody, Austin Carr and Adrian Dantley. Among the former Irish standouts at the game were Gary Novak, John Shumate, John Paxson, David Rivers and Kelly Tripucka. The Irish wore yellow and green warmups that were replicas of those worn by the ‘74 squad.
Phelps led Notre Dame to a 393-197 record in his 20 seasons as coach from 1971 through 1991.