ATLANTA (AP) — This time, Notre Dame was prepared for the closing minutes of another close ACC game.
Lessons learned while suffering two losses last week by a combined eight points helped the Fighting Irish in another tight game.
Prentiss Hubb scored a career-high 25 points, John Mooney recorded another double-double and Notre Dame pulled away late to beat Georgia Tech 78-74 on Wednesday night.
“I thought it was really important as I’m watching this game unfold, we really need to finish this one,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said after recalling last week’s 73-68 loss to North Carolina State and a 67-64 “heartbreaking” loss to then-No. 13 Louisville.
“I think we can grow again here with this one,” Brey said.
Hubb’s follow-up layup gave the Fighting Irish (11-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) a 67-64 lead. T.J. Gibbs added a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to six points with 1:04 remaining.
Gibbs’ long 3 came after Georgia Tech switched to a zone defense after playing man-to-man most of the game.
“The one time we went zone they hit a 3 on us,” said Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner.
Jose Alvarado’s layup with six seconds left cut Notre Dame’s lead to 77-74. Hubb made one of two free throws with four seconds remaining for the final margin.
Gibbs had 17 points and Dane Goodwin added 15. Hubb and Gibbs carried most of the scoring load in the final minutes.
“We feed off each other’s energy,” Hubb said. “If we are playing in tandem and everything is flowing, I think we can be very dangerous in the ACC and the NCAA.”
Michael Devoe led Georgia Tech (8-9, 3-4) with 22 points and nine rebounds. Moses Wright had 16 points.
The Yellow Jackets fell to 0-3 in home ACC games.
“It sucks. We’ve got to protect our home court,” Alvarado said.
Mooney’s hook shot with 2:48 remaining gave Notre Dame a 63-60 lead and gave the senior his 11th consecutive double-double, tying the school record. Mooney overcame 0-for-6 shooting from the field in the first half to finish with 10 points and 13 rebounds. The 6-foot-9 senior missed each of his six shots from the field, including three 3-pointers, in the first half. His only points came on two free throws.
Hubb drove the length of the court for a layup to end the first half, giving the Irish a 29-27 lead.
It was a familiar halftime scenario for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have trailed at the break in 13 of 17 games. They have rallied in the second half for four wins after trailing at halftime.
Even as Mooney began to find his shot, Georgia Tech took a 47-41 lead before Notre Dame scored six straight for a 50-49 advantage.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish showed good poise down the stretch, especially from Hubb. Notre Dame used only seven players but its veteran presence paid off in the final minutes.
Georgia Tech: Despite shooting 51.7 percent from the field and outscoring Notre Dame 48-32 in the paint, the Yellow Jackets fell short in yet another home loss. Alvarado had nine assists and Devoe played an all-around solid game.
Mooney matched the Notre Dame record of 11 consecutive double-doubles set by Luke Harangody in the 2008-09 season.
“I don’t really care about the personal stuff,” Mooney said. “I really don’t. I’m just glad we got the win.”
Mooney’s first field goal came on a jam about three minutes into the second half.
Pastner said the key was Notre Dame’s 7-0 advantage in offensive rebounds in the second half. “That created seven more shots for them,” Pastner said. “That’s the game right there.”
Notre Dame: Following a week off, the Fighting Irish play Syracuse on Jan. 22.
Georgia Tech: Remains home to face Virginia on Saturday night.
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