Tech loses again to No. 12 Notre Dame

At the outset, once again, the possibility that Georgia Tech could take down an ACC contender wafted through McCamish Pavilion. Once again, though, the Yellow Jackets met crushing defeat, losing to No. 12 Notre Dame 62-59 on Wednesday night.

The Jackets led by as many as 12 in the first half and took an eight-point lead into halftime, but were undone by a collapse at both ends of the floor in the second half. Tech dropped to 0-4 in the ACC and 9-7 overall by shooting 26.1 percent in the second half.

“It’s frustrating, there’s no doubt about it,” coach Brian Gregory said. “At the same time, you’ve got to keep battling through and know that you’ve done a lot of good things, but not enough of them or at the critical times.”

After taking a 56-55 lead with 4:48 to play, the Jackets came up empty over the next five possessions, not scoring again until forward Quinton Stephens’ desperation 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left, which produced the final 62-59 score.

“I feel like we came out a little flat starting the second half,” said guard Chris Bolden, who contributed 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range.

For the second consecutive game, Tech had a hot hand in center Demarco Cox, but again could not find him enough. Cox finished with 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting to go with seven rebounds and three blocks. Cox made both ends of a one-and-one with 4:48 to give Tech its final lead, but scarcely touched the ball over the final six possessions, with Notre Dame aggressively trying to deny him in the post.

The loss continued a pattern for the Jackets in which they have demonstrated the capacity to compete against ACC teams but have routinely failed to close games, often because of their own failures to string together efficient possessions. Wednesday, after guard Corey Heyward made a 3-pointer with 8:14 to play, Tech did not score another basket until Stephens’ last-second 3-pointer.

Said Gregory, “It just comes down to making a couple plays again at the end of the game. Get the ball and try to finish a couple plays.”

Notre Dame (16-2, 4-1) won its second game over Tech in the past 12 days. The Irish trailed by double digits in both games, but managed to close down the lead by halftime, leading to a double-overtime win in South Bend, Ind., and to Wednesday’s win in regulation.