Notre Dame tops Boston College 80-58 to advance in ACCs

NCAA Men's Basketball
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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP)Notre Dame advanced the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament without much heavy lifting from star John Mooney.

And that was just fine with Irish coach Mike Brey given the Irish’s balanced scoring attack.

T.J. Gibbs scored 16 points and Dane Goodwin added 15 points, and Notre Dame defeated Boston College 80-58 on Wednesday. The Irish (20-12) won in an unconventional manner as five different players scored in double digits, none of which were Associated Press first-team All-ACC selection Mooney.

Prentiss Hubb had 14 points for Notre Dame, while Juwan Durham had 12 points and Nate Laszewski scored 10. Mooney finished with eight points and 11 rebounds after spending the final few minutes on the bench with the game out of hand.

”Any time we can get that thing to 80 and make double-digit 3s, that’s how we have to advance and beat people in this league,” Brey said.

It was one of the last two games played in front of fans at the Greensboro Coliseum this week.

The ACC put out a statement midway through the second half that in light of the rapidly changing landscape regarding the coronavirus, the league’s presidents and athletic directors determined that beginning Thursday all games will be played with only essential tournament personnel, limited school administrators and student-athlete guests, broadcast television and credentialed media members present.

Brey doesn’t think playing in front of an empty coliseum will be a distraction.

”I don’t think there’s going to be any letdown or distraction,” Brey said. ”We practice over 100 practices a year in a gym like that tomorrow. I’m going to remind us of some of our great practices when there’s seven people in the gym and we’re going at it. They still know they’re playing on national TV and everybody is watching them and still know they’re playing for a trophy.”

Gibbs was happy that his family will be able to attend the game, and thinks the players’ focus will be sharp.

”We have to come out and play like our lives are on the line still,” Gibbs said. ”We play for the fans, it’s going to be, not sad, but just a little bit of a different environment. Our families are usually here and it’s a little bit easier to play and a little bit more energy in the building, but we have to bring our own energy and just play the way we play.”

Tenth-seeded Boston College was led by 20 points and 13 rebounds from Steffon Mitchell.

The two teams split during the regular season with each team winning by one point on the other’s home court.

But this one wasn’t nearly as close.

The Irish jumped out to a 30-12 lead with 3:37 left in the first half after the Eagles opened the game 3 of 24 from the field. Boston College shot 34% for the game and was just 6 of 20 from 3-point range.

The Eagles battled back to within seven at one point in the second half, but couldn’t get any closer.

”Against Notre Dame you have to get in to an offensive rhythm early,” said Boston College coach Jim Christian. ”We had some young guys playing in this tournament and maybe got a little excited. When you dig a hole like that against them, it’s hard to come back.”

BIG PICTURE

Boston College: The Eagles simply couldn’t dig out of an early hole. They needed someone to step up in the scoring column and that didn’t happen until Mitchell got going in the second half. Notre Dame’s 1-3-1 defense seemed to throw off the Eagles.

Notre Dame: Despite winning 20 games this season, the Irish are considered a bubble team when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. A win over No. 17 Virginia would go a long way toward helping their case. Brey said he is concerned about the Cavaliers’ length, but thinks the Irish are built to handle that by spreading the floor.

BIG PICTURE

Boston College: Season is over.

Notre Dame: Will face second-seeded Virginia in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

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