Yellow Jackets drop fourth straight, lose at Notre Dame

Ibrahima Sacko (23) scored a career-high 13 for the Jackets. File photo by Jason Getz /



Ibrahima Sacko (23) scored a career-high 13 for the Jackets. File photo by Jason Getz /

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Georgia Tech got the stop it needed, but not the bounce.

Trailing 56-55 with 38 seconds to play at Purcell Pavilion Wednesday night, the Yellow Jackets saw Notre Dame guard Markus Burton miss a jumper with eight seconds to play. But the rebound was tapped out by Kebba Njie and wound up in the hands of Logan Imes on the left side perimeter. Imes passed it to Burton who was fouled with a single tick on the clock.

Burton made two free throws giving the Fighting Irish a 58-55 victory.

“I just really wanted to win the game,” Njie said of his pivotal tap out. “So whatever it took, whatever it looked like means a win to me.”

Tech scored just two points over the final 4:33 of the game. It was only outscored 6-2 over that span, but missed three shots and turned the ball over twice to add to its demise. The fourth straight defeat for the Jackets put them in a tie for last place in the ACC standings with Louisville, although it would currently lose a tiebreaker to the Cardinals by virtue of the Jackets’ loss at U of L on Saturday.

Ibrahima Sacko was Tech’s unlikely scoring leader Wednesday with a career-high 13 points (the freshman hadn’t scored more than six points in 17 games this season). Baye Ndongo and Miles Kelly each had 11 points - Kelly scored 36 on Saturday at Louisville but shot just 4 of 12 on Wednesday.

Tech actually held Notre Dame to 31.6% shooting. The Irish only made 5 of 26 3-pointers yet sunk 17 free throws, had 20 second-chance points and 16 offensive rebounds to complete a regular-season sweep of Tech.

The Jackets (10-15, 3-11 ACC) next host Syracuse (16-9, 7-7) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

“There’s a standard that I think comes with trying to create that your first year when you’re trying to build a program.” Tech coach Damon Stoudamire said. “But it’s not easy. This is the first time this group has been together and so you’re trying to figure all that out on the run.

“To me that’s the most frustrating thing. I get disappointed at that because I want so much for these kids because I know what it looks like to win. I know what that looks like when you’re winning. It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun.”

Tech’s first half Wednesday was mired by a scoreless drought of 4:36 during which time the Irish went on an 11-0 run and took a 22-17 lead. Notre Dame wound up holding on for a 31-28 advantage at the break.

The Jackets held Notre Dame to 30% shooting but turned the ball over five times and shot just 39.3% themselves.

Tech came out in the second half a much better unit and proved it with a 9-1 run to start things, a spurt punctuated by a Nait George 3 out of the left corner. That run gave the Jackets a five-point lead, a margin they held on to thanks to Sacko’s one-handed dunk from the right baseline that made it 40-35.

Notre Dame then put together an 8-2 stretch to go up 49-46 with a little less than eight minutes remaining.

Kelly brought Tech back with nine straight points. His jumper in the paint with 4:33 on the clock put the Jackets ahead 53-52 – but they wouldn’t score for another 3:55 when Ndongo’s layup cut the score to 56-55. That was Tech’s last bucket of its heartbreaking Valentine’s Day evening.

“I thought we took some shots I would have liked us to get a better one,” Stoudamire said of his team’s AWOL offense down the stretch. “As an offensive player you gotta know where your spots are and you can’t concede your spots on the court. You gotta get to where you wanna get.”

Burton led the Irish (9-16, 4-10) with 18 points while Tae Davis added 17.


With 11 points, Kelly needs 24 to reach 1,000 for his career.

Tech is 13-17 all-time against Notre Dame and 2-12 against the Irish in South Bend, last winning there in 1990 (a streak of 10 straight losses).

The Jackets are 2-8 on the road this season, 2-3 against teams with a losing record, 2-10 when trailing at halftime, 3-15 when trailing at the 5-minute mark, 1-10 when scoring less than 70 points, 5-1 when holding the opponent to less than 70 points and 2-9 when getting out-rebounded.

Tech has played 17 games decided by single digits.

Tech is 8-25 in its last 33 road games and 5-22 in its last 27 conference road games.

Attendance on Wednesday was announced as 4,589.