The FSU men’s team returned home Monday night for another tough conference matchup against Notre Dame. Coming off a tough road loss to UNC, which snapped the Noles' 9 game win streak, the team hoped to get things back on track on their home floor.
Notre Dame got off to a hot start hitting six 3-pointers in the first half. The fighting Irish penetrated the lane at will and found the open man for high percentage shots shooting 46% from three in the first half. The Noles rallied back from a 10-point deficit in large part to their suffocating on-ball defense led by sophomore guard MJ Walker who ignited the Noles comeback with a steal and breakaway dunk.
“MJ energized the team with his defense, he gave us tremendous effort on both ends of the floor.” Said Head Coach Leonard Hamilton.
The Noles would clamp down defensively in the 2nd half holding Notre Dame to 35% from the field and only allowed two 3-pointers.
The Noles received a much-needed boost off the bench from true freshman Devin Vassell. Vassell shot 5-6 from the field scoring 13 points while collecting 7 rebounds.
“Coach Hamilton always says that 6 through 12 is just as important as 1 through 5 so I just tried to go out and do my part, we have great coaches and teammates who always encourage me it helps me to go out and perform at a high level, “ said Vassell.
The freshman guard also played hard on defense constantly applying pressure on the Notre Dame guards registering a block and two steals.
“He came in and played like a Veteran he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now we needed him to step up,” said coach Hamilton
The Noles extended their lead in the second half behind the dominant play of their big men. Christ Koumadje and Mfiondu Kabengele patrolled the painted area combining for 22 points and 9 rebounds. The Noles outrebounded Notre Dame 40 to 26 and scored 34 of their 68 points in the painted area.
With the 68-61 win over Notre Dame, the Noles improved their Conference record to 10-5 and have an opportunity to receive a first-round ACC tournament bye. Next up the Seminoles take on NC State at home Saturday at noon.