Prentiss Hubb, Notre Dame

Nate Laszewski leads Notre Dame over North Carolina.

The Notre Dame basketball team has struggled in the non-conference portion of its season and entered its second game in ACC play desperately needing a win over North Carolina to right the ship. Led by Nate Laszewski’s 20 points and eight rebounds, the Fighting Irish avoided a late collapse and won its fourth game in a row in its 78-73 win. The Irish improved to 8-5 and 2-1 in ACC play heading into a weekend game at Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Takeaway #1: Irish showed clutch moments

Laszewski to the rescue. The senior calmly drilled back-to-back three-pointers after Notre Dame had surrendered the lead following an 8-0 North Carolina run that gave the Tar Heels a 67-66 lead with 3:02 left. His back-to-back personal six-point scoring spree on the Irish’s next two possessions gave Notre Dame a 72-67 lead it would never relinquish. For the game, Laszewski made six of seven shots from behind the arc and was 7-11 from the game. All of those totals, along with his 35 minutes of playing time, were season highs for Laszewski.

Takeaway #2: Irish are hot

The Irish have now won four straight games, including back-to-back ACC wins having defeated Pitt in their last outing. They did avoid a game at Duke on New Year’s Day with the Devils in a Covid-pause. After losing three straight games and four of five overall to Texas A&M, Illinois, Boston College, and Indiana, Mike Brey’s squad was in need of a resume-enhancing win. The ACC is down this year so a win over UNC will come in handy as they try to climb to the top of the ACC standings and make the NCAA Tournament.

Takeaway #3: North Carolina needs to fix communication problems

North Carolina was on the verge of a momentum-building road win in come-from-behind fashion against Notre Dame. An Armando Bacot layup capped off an 8-0 Tar Heel run and gave UNC a 67-66 lead. However, a pair of defensive lapses on switching through screens allowed Nate Laszewski to drain two three-pointers that proved to be too much for North Carolina to overcome. Bacot did lead the Tar Heels with 21 points and 17 rebounds (15 defensive).

By skirck2