Georgia Tech season ends with loss to Notre Dame at ACC tournament

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Georgia Tech nearly completed an epic and memorable comeback Tuesday in the ACC tournament, but two late turnovers and five consecutive points by Notre Dame ended the Yellow Jackets’ season at Capital One Arena in an 84-80 win for the Fighting Irish.

Tech had the ball down 82-80 and put the ball in freshman Nait George’s hands. But George lost the handle while moving toward the basket and looking for an open teammate. Braeden Shrewsberry sank two free throws with five seconds to go and sank Tech’s season.

Tech ended its season at 14-18.

“It was very tough. We stayed poised down the stretch; we just didn’t get the outcome that we wanted at the end of the day,” said Miles Kelly, Tech’s leading scorer, who confirmed after the game he has been playing with a bad back for about a month.

The Jackets trailed by as many as 17 points with 13 minutes to play. But they ramped up the defensive pressure, which translated into a 21-6 run that ended with a Baye Ndongo hook shot in the lane, closing the gap to 71-69 with 7:51 on the clock.

Notre Dame stretched the margin back to six, but Deebo Coleman got a friendly bounce on a straight-away 3-point shot and then back-to-back buckets from George to go up 78-77 with 4:24 left – that was Tech’s first lead of the day.

It was a lead it couldn’t hold.

“Proud of our guys for fighting back this evening. They did a really good job in the second half, and they gave us a chance to win the game,” Tech coach Damon Stoudamire said. “Unfortunately somebody has to win and somebody has to lose.

“But proud of the fellas for the way they played. They did a really good job and got back in the game. There was a lot of perseverance by them, showed a lot of character in not giving up. Proud of that.”

George scored 24 points and had seven assists. Ndongo, fasting for Ramadan, finished with 22, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block, while Kyle Sturdivant scored 10 points.

Tech allowed Notre Dame to grab eight offensive rebounds and score 10 second-chance points. The Irish made 12 3-pointers, six in each half.

“I mean, we can make a lot of excuses, but there’s no tomorrow,” Stoudamire said. “I think we got off to a slow start. I felt like we played – I know we weren’t intimidated by Notre Dame. I felt like we was intimidated by the moment at first.

“Once the game settled in, second half I thought we did a tremendous job. We did everything we talked about in the second half that we should have did in the first. Again, that’s the way the game goes. But proud of the guys. You had to expend a lot of energy, but again, that’s part of it.”

Tech got off to a terrible start, falling into a 17-5 hole during a 4:21 scoring drought. Once the Jackets did start to find scoring lanes, they did little on the defensive end to slow the Irish. When Shrewsbury made a floater at the 6:13 mark to put Notre Dame up 34-23, the Irish were shooting 61%.

That clip actually went up a single tick when the teams headed to the locker room with Notre Dame leading 45-35. The Irish missed only 11 shots and got 15 points out of Markus Burton along the way.

A little more than seven minutes into the second half, Notre Dame made its 10th 3, this one courtesy of big man Matt Zona to take a 65-48 lead – a lead that looked insurmountable at that time, but a lead that turned out to be barely enough.

Shrewsberry led the Irish (13-19) with 23 points.

“As I saw (Tech) in the bracket, it was a team I just didn’t want to play them again,” Notre Dame coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “I got so much respect for (Stoudamire) as a coach, his whole staff. They’ve played really, really well throughout this year, and he can coach, man. I knew it would be a really tough battle.

“But proud of our guys, proud of their effort. When we had to dig in and come back, we made some big-time plays.”