Maui Invitational: Notre Dame fights back from 16-point deficit to top Wichita State
No. 13 Irish led for only 22 seconds, but a pair of clutch free throws lifted them to a Maui finale victory
Notre Dame held a lead for only 22 seconds in the entirety of its 40-minute heavyweight bout against the No. 6 Wichita State Shockers on Wednesday in the Maui Invitational finale, but that was all it needed to secure a victory and complete one of the more unlikely comebacks of the early season.
The Irish trailed by as many as 16 points to the Shockers in the second half after a opening frame that was putrid all the way across the board, but they clawed their way back in and stayed within striking distance throughout the final 20 minutes. They cut the lead to one point several times in the closing minutes, and trailing by one with two seconds remaining, Martinas Geben knocked down two free throws that gave Notre Dame a 67-66 triumph.
"I think it's a big confidence builder when you can win an in-season tournament," Brey said. "We won the Legends Classic last year. But this is the premier tournament. To win the Maui Classic, this is the tournament. Everybody watches this one. And I bet a lot of people were watching with cocktails in their hands back east tonight. So it's a great confidence builder."
Bonzie Colson dropped 25 points and added 11 rebounds to lead the effort for Mike Brey's crew. His running mate Matt Farrell, who helped close the gap with a critical steal and dish with 14 seconds left, finished with 15 points and four assists.
For Wichita State, Zach Brown had a team-high 14 points while Conner Frankamp chipped in with 12. But early foul trouble by Shaq Morris, who played only eight minutes, plagued Wichita State. And without the Shockers' most dominant interior presence, Colson was free to get whatever he wanted -- inside and out.
Still yet, the game was decided by only three seconds.
"I thought it was a great college basketball game," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "Obviously, I wish it had ended three seconds sooner. I thought our guys battled against a very, very good team with great players and a wonderful coach. I have tremendous respect for Notre Dame, but I love the guys in my locker room. I love those guys in my locker room, and we're going to win our share of these. Unfortunately, you know, this one, just one play. We just needed one more play, one more stop, one more basket, and we could point to a lot of different things. But it came down to just that one play and three seconds."
All told, this was a fantastic game that came down to the wire and there are positive takeaways all the way around. The good news for Notre Dame: This win is going to look fantastic on its eventual NCAA Tournament résumé. And the good news for Wichita State: It hung with a Top 25 team without Markis McDuffie, an impact player who remains out with a foot injury.
Wichita State will also have numerous opportunities in nonconference play to boost its overall postseason résumé, too. In the coming weeks, it will face Power 5 foes Baylor, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and UConn before it dives head-first into its first American Athletic Conference run as a member. It's safe to say that the long-term outlook this season -- both for the Shockers and the Irish -- is tremendously high.
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