SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Virginia’s momentary shakiness against surging Notre Dame reminded Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett of a toy from the 1970s. “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down,” Bennett said after the No. 23 Cavaliers relinquished almost all of an 11-point second-half lead, then pulled away late for a 66-57 victory over the Fighting Irish on Wednesday night.
#23 Cavs roll past Irish in ACC opener
“Our young guys don’t know what that is,” Bennett said of the old-time toy, “but we wobbled a couple times, but we didn’t fall down.”
Kihei Clark had 19 points and five assists as No. 23 Virginia continued its string of dominance over Notre Dame.
The Cavaliers (5-2, 1-0) improved to 12-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference openers under Bennett and 10-0 in ACC regular-season matchups against the Irish.
Jay Huff scored 15 points for Virginia. Sam Hauser added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Notre Dame (3-5, 0-2) fell despite a career-high 28 points from Nate Laszewski. The junior forward hit 8 of 11 shots from the field with four 3-pointers to go with 8 of 10 at the line. Juwan Durham added 19 points for the Irish. “Durham and Laszewski hurt us,” Bennett said. “We’ve got to kind of shore up against some of these good fours and fives (positionally).”
“Our two big guys did play great,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “We’ve got to build on that even though we didn’t win the game.”
The Cavaliers led at every count except 2-2 and were up 35-24 by early in the second half, but the Irish twice clawed within one point, the last time at 47-46 with 8:26 remaining.
Notre Dame also had a chance to tie it at 54, but Cormac Ryan’s wide open 3-pointer rimmed around and softly out.
“I thought Cormac’s 3 in the corner that was halfway down was key,” Brey said after Ryan finished the night scoreless on four attempts. “We missed that one, (then) they made one (a 23-footer by Trey Murphy III), and that was kind of our last shot.”