GREENSBORO, N.C. — Another terrific outing from Pat Connaughton wasn’t enough to propel Notre Dame to the next round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament yesterday afternoon.
Connaughton, a 6-foot-5 former St. John’s Prep star, led the Irish with 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in a season-ending 81-69 first round loss to Wake Forest at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Fighting Irish finished the year 15-17 overall, 6-12 in the ACC.
Excluding teammate Jerian Grant (who only played the first 12 games of the season), Connaughton, a junior, ranked second on Notre Dame for per game averages in points (13.6), minutes (37.1), rebounds (7.2), assists (3.0) and steals (1.0) this season.
Wake Forest’s Coron Williams scored a season-high 25 points to power the victorious Demon Deacons. Wake Forest (17-15) shot a season-best 61 percent, built a 33-23 rebounding advantage and earned their first ACC tournament win since 2007.
“In a tournament setting, and for us, given that this is our first experience down here in this thing, we need to get off to a better start to believe that we can win a game here,” head coach Mike Brey said.
Zach Auguste added 14 points, Eric Atkins had 13 and Garrick Sherman finished with 12 for the Irish, who briefly made things tense in the final moments when Atkins spun in a 3-pointer to make it 68-62 with 2:10 left. But Notre Dame didn’t get closer than eight the rest of the way.
“The answer has been really what’s plagued us most of the year — we just haven’t been able to get stops,” Brey said.
“They made timely baskets.”