Georgia Tech loses to Notre Dame in double OT

In a nervy attempt to negotiate a considerable upset, Georgia Tech fell short by the smallest of margins.

The Yellow Jackets extended No. 14 Notre Dame to two overtimes Saturday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion, accepting an 83-76 loss in their ACC opener. To Tech guard Chris Bolden, the application from the defeat was obvious.

“When you get up, you just have to step on their throat,” said Bolden, who scored 14 points and gave some of his best play of the season.

Tech’s final gasp was a four-shot possession in the second overtime, when the Jackets were trying to rally out of a 79-73 hole with just under a minute to play. The Jackets came up empty, the last shot emphatically rejected.

But the path toward the result was paved in the first half, when the Jackets made the first move and stunned the Fighting Irish with a 13-2 lead inside the first three minutes. On the Irish’s first 10 possessions, the team ranked third-best in the country in turnovers per game (9.3) and first in field-goal percentage (55.4 percent) lost the ball three times and made two of six field-goal tries. Tech led 15-7.

The lead was still at 10 at the 8:21 mark of the first half, but was cut to four points by halftime. There was a sense that Tech had connected on a flurry of punches, but still led by only two baskets, a precarious position on the home court of a veteran team.

Missed opportunities abounded. After intercepting a pass, guard Travis Jorgenson had his open-court layup blocked. The Jackets burned another possession when an inbounds pass from guard Josh Heath to forward Robert Sampson went out of bounds. Shots at the rim by post men Demarco Cox, Charles Mitchell and Sampson missed.

Said Mitchell, “I even missed a layup I can make every day in my sleep.”

“That’s the next step, to finish a couple of those plays,” coach Brian Gregory said. “So instead of a four-point lead at the half, it’s 12 or 13, potentially. Same thing in the second. They make a little run, they cut it to four, you make a couple, you’re back up by eight.”

That said, Tech, picked to finish 13th in the ACC, flew home encouraged by how it had stood even with a top-15 team on its home court. The Jackets dominated Notre Dame on the glass, with 46 rebounds to 31 for the Irish, leading to 73 shots to Notre Dame’s 60.

After the Irish made a 7-0 run midway through the second half to flip a 46-42 deficit to a 49-46 lead with 8:55 remaining, the Jackets stayed in the game and forced overtime, led by Mitchell. The forward had four rebounds, four points and one assist in the final 4:43 of regulation, part of a 14-point, 12-rebound afternoon. Forward Marcus Georges-Hunt led the Jackets with 20 points.

“You gain a lot (from the game), knowing that’s supposed to be a top-15 team in the country,” Mitchell said. “You can see a lot from our team. We didn’t come out with a win, but we definitely got better as a team.”

Starting the first overtime tied at 59-59, Tech fell behind 67-61 in the first two minutes as the Irish connected on two 3-pointers after shooting 1-for-12 from 3-point range in regulation. The Jackets forced a second overtime by scoring on their final four possessions of the first overtime, including a clutch tip-in by Cox off a Georges-Hunt miss with 10 seconds remaining.

In the second extra period, begun at 69-69, Tech again was beaten by a 3-pointer over a defensive breakdown, allowing Notre Dame to score the first five points of the second overtime, and this time could not recover.

“I thought our guys responded well,” Gregory said. “We played with great energy, great effort. We defended well, we rebounded well, we shared the ball well. We just couldn’t make quite enough plays, make a couple shots around the basket.”