Justin Bibbs scored 20 points and Chris Clarke contributed six points in the final minute as Virginia Tech downed injury-riddled Notre Dame 80-75 on Saturday night in South Bend, Ind.
Clarke contributed 12 points, 14 rebounds and four assists off the bench for Virginia Tech, which was coming off an 80-69 upset of No. 10 North Carolina. Justin Robinson posted 12 points and seven assists and Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 11 points for the Hokies (15-6, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).
TJ Gibbs led the Irish (13-8, 3-5) with 27 points and five assists. John Mooney had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Rex Pflueger also tossed in 15 points for Notre Dame, which has lost five straight for the first time since 2009.
The Fighting Irish are scrambling without three of their best players. Forward Bonzie Colson has a broken foot, point guard Matt Farrell is sidelined due to a bone bruise to his ankle, and guard D.J. Harvey has a knee injury. Notre Dame has started seven different lineups in eight conference games.
Notre Dame shot just 26.7 percent during the first half but was down just seven points at halftime after Gibbs swished a half-court shot at the buzzer. Virginia Tech shot 44.8 percent and committed only three turnovers but attempted just two free throws before the break.
An 11-4 spurt by Virginia Tech early in the second half extended the lead to 56-42. Bibbs fueled the run, as he scored the first five points and then assisted on 3-point buckets by Robinson and Ahmed Hill.
A Bibbs 3-pointer with 12:14 left made it 59-44, but a 15-3 outburst got the Irish back in it. Gibbs was the sparkplug, scoring seven points and dishing out two assists in that span.
Mooney’s put-back with 3:14 left brought Notre Dame within 72-70. Notre Dame’s Nikola Djogo missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute. Clarke then had a tip-in, two free throws and a dunk to seal Virginia Tech’s victory.
Last season, the Irish ended the Hokies’ 15-game home winning streak with a 76-71 victory.
—Field Level Media