A methodical approach saved Notre Dame’s season in late February and early March.
The same tactic ended the team's hope for a deep NCAA Tournament run Thursday afternoon in a 51-50 opening round loss to 11-seed Old Dominion.
The Irish managed just six points in the second-half and connected on only three field goals in the final 8:29, the last of which was a meaningless tip-in by senior Luke Harangody at the buzzer.
Harangody’s tip-in followed a potential game-tying three-point shot by junior Carleton Scott. Scott’s final shot rimmed out and a tip attempt by Ben Hansbrough and Harangody’s finish ended the contest as time expired.
Harangody scored just four points in his final college game, with both field goals occuring in the final 13 seconds on put-backs with the Irish trailing by three points.
Old Dominion used a variety of zone defenses in the second stanza, the most effective of which were 3-2 and 1-2-2 sets, limiting the Irish to 22 second half points and an 11-27 shooting performance.
The Irish were 2-12 from beyond the arc in the second half and hit just 6 of 26 long range offerings in the loss.
Old Dominion was led by junior forward Frank Hassell’s 15 points and 9 rebounds, while junior forward Keyon Carter added 11 off the bench.
Carter hit a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining to give the Monarchs a three-point edge, forcing the Irish into a deep jumper to tie the contest.
Scott, who hit a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer in Notre Dame’s regular-season finale at Marquette, rose above the defense for what appeared to be the game-tying shot from the left corner in front of the Irish bench.
When his shot rattled out, the Notre Dame season and the careers of Harangody and fellow captain Tory Jackson came to a close.
The pair, along with backup Jonathan Peoples, won more games than any other class in program history but never advanced past the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Jackson and Harangody finished a combined 4-20 from the field with 9 total points.
The Monarchs hit 10 of 19 field goal attempts in the second half after shooting 34 percent in the first 20 minutes. ODU took its first lead since the opening bucket with 14:27 remaining in the contest, but trailed for the next 12:05 of the contest before taking the lead for good at 46-43 on a Darius James 3-pointer with 2:18 remaining.
With the exception of a one possession, 45-second span, Notre Dame led for a span of 35:25 prior to James’ long-range bucket. The Irish led by as many as nine late in the second half while the victors never owned more than a three-point advantage.
Hansbrough led the Irish with 17 points while Scott added 14 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes.
The Irish led 28-22 at the half with Hansbrough, Scott, and Tim Abromaitis accounting for 25 of the 28 points in the first 20 minutes.
The tentative Irish attempted just three free throws (hitting two) and were out-rebounded 35-30, though Notre Dame outrebounded ODU 15-8 in defeat.
Two separate six minute scoring droughts buried the Irish in the second stanza.