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Jackson Sparks Irish In 71-64 Loss

Notre Dame’s attempt for a third consecutive win — and second straight on the road — fell just short in a 71-64 loss at Miami on Wednesday night.

Freshman guard Demetrius Jackson scored 17 points and helped rally the Irish during a second-half comeback attempt.

The Irish (14-13, 5-9 ACC) trailed by as many as 15, but narrowed the deficit to one point with 36 seconds to play. After sinking a three-pointer, junior guard/forward Pat Connaughton stole a Hurricanes inbounds pass and flipped it to freshman guard Steve Vasturia in the corner, who nailed the shot.

The Canes made all eight of their free throws to avoid the double-digit collapse. Miami burst out to a 24-10 lead and Notre Dame did not threaten to come back until late in the second half.

“I’m really proud of our group because nothing really felt great,” head coach Mike Brey told UND.com. “Give Miami credit. They shot the heck out of it, especially to start the game.

“We had three freshmen on the floor to make that run back and they made big plays for us. It’s something to build on. … I’m proud of our group because we sure put ourselves in a position [to win].”

Vasturia and the other two Irish freshmen combined for 30 of the team’s 64 points. The most encouraging development from the loss for Brey’s squad was the emergence of freshman guard Demetrius Jackson. After sitting out the last two games due to what his coach called “poor academic habits,” Jackson returned to score a career-high 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting with the approach many had expected for months.

“I’m very proud of [Jackson],” Brey said. “He had a tough week, he got caught up academically. I think he’s more mature and more grown up. One of the positives from tonight is he’s back in a rhythm and back in our rotation. We started him in the second half and he was the guy who really energized us to make us think we had a chance to do it tonight.”

Connaughton powered the offense again with 22 points, highlighted by 6-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. He scored 17 at Boston College on the first game of the road trip Sunday. Fifth-year senior center Garrick Sherman struggled again with an injured right ring finger, and finished with seven points on 3-of-9 shooting and three rebounds. His fellow member of the starting frontcourt, sophomore forward Zach Auguste, did not score and managed just one rebound in eight minutes. Brey opted for a small lineup during most of the contest.

“I just told our guys, ‘I’m proud of you.’ We have to flush this one quickly,” Brey said. “We have the chance to play a nationally ranked team on their floor and a team that thumped us at our place, the worst beating we’ve got. We’ve got to move forward quickly.”

Miami (13-13, 4-9) secured its first home win (1-6) in conference play. The Irish travel to Virginia on Saturday to conclude the three-game road trip.

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