CHARLOTTESVILLE — Given Irish coach Mike Brey’s prediction that the Virginia-Notre Dame men’s basketball game would be a “rock fight,” UVa fans would be pleased to know that Brey says the Cavaliers are “in” the NCAA field.
His “rock fight” assessment was spot on as the Cavaliers pulled out a 50-49 overtime victory Tuesday night at John Paul Jones Arena.
The game was tied 47-47 at the end of regulation, with Virginia outscoring the Irish 3-2 in overtime.
“I’m sick for our guys. We played our hearts out,” said Brey, whose team held the lead for 24 minutes, 15 seconds, compared to Virginia leading for a total of 10:31.
“I’m disappointed for us because I think we’re playing pretty well. We played fearlessly. We put ourselves in position [to win]. You have to tip your cap to Virginia. They made some big offensive plays.”
The Cavaliers improved their record to 16-7 overall and 8-5 in the ACC. Notre Dame fell to 15-9 and 6-7.
UVa senior Mamadi Diakite was the only UVa player to score in double figures, finishing with 20 points. He was 7 of 15 from the field, while the rest of the team shot 12 of 36.
Fellow senior Braxton Key was 1 for 7 from the field, missing all three of his 3-point attempts. But he did have a team-high 12 rebounds as the Cavaliers outrebounded the Irish 41-34.
Virginia shot 37.3% (19 of 51) from the field and Notre Dame shot 32.8% (20 of 61).
“I think the principles that Tony [Virginia coach Tony Bennett] teaches are fabulous and their reputation is well-deserved,” Brey said. “Last year, they had some offensive guys, and sometimes offensive guys don’t want to guard as much.
“I think they’ve got guys who try to earn everything. We thought it would be a rock fight. I told [Notre Dame’s players] that it would be, and it was. They’re probably more accustomed to rock fights than us.”
Tomas Woldetensae, coming off a 27-point outing Saturday in Virginia’s 80-73 loss at Louisville, had five points and was 1 for 8 on 3-pointers after going 7 for 10 at Louisville.
“We missed free throws, we had some key turnovers down the stretch, they missed some open shots, but we’ll take it,” UVa’s Bennett said. “Both teams have been playing well and have been trending in the right direction.
“Notre Dame was really playing good basketball. It was a quality win against a quality opponent at home. Home court got us one.”