NEW YORK (AP) – Bonzie Colson banked in a go-ahead, 3-point heave that barely beat the shot clock with two minutes remaining, and Notre Dame rallied from 21 down in the second half to stun Virginia Tech 71-65 on Wednesday night at the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Matt Farrell scored 22 points for the 10th-seeded Fighting Irish (20-13), who overcame a dreadful start in extending their late push to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Finally healthy after injuries to Colson and Farrell nearly wrecked a promising season, Notre Dame advanced to play Thursday night in the quarterfinals against fifth-ranked and second-seeded Duke, the defending tournament champion.
Do the Irish need to win at least that one, too, in order to make the field of 68?
Hard to say, but they sure woke up the echoes on this snowy night in Brooklyn.
With the Irish stars struggling to make shots, seventh-seeded Virginia Tech (21-11) was cruising along with a 47-26 lead with just under 14 minutes remaining when Farrell drained his second consecutive 3.
That started a ferocious surge that got a feisty Notre Dame squad back into it. The game got a little testy as the Irish picked up the intensity and the Hokies went cold on offense.
A technical foul on Virginia Tech swingman Chris Clarke for shoving Farrell led to four Notre Dame free throws that trimmed it to 54-50 with 7:45 to go. Colson kissed three fingers on each hand and gestured to the crowd after his desperation shot from the right wing gave the Irish a 60-59 edge.
They extended their advantage at the free throw line, and in the final minute, Farrell looked over at former Notre Dame star LaPhonso Ellis, broadcasting courtside for ESPN, and yelled: “I told you Phonso, we ain’t done!”
Colson, back recently from a broken foot, finished with 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting. Rex Pflueger had 14 points and nine rebounds, and T.J. Gibbs added 13 points and seven assists.
Justin Robinson and Justin Bibbs each scored 15 for the Hokies.
Notre Dame: Colson and Co. reached the second round by holding on for a 67-64 win Tuesday night over a Pittsburgh team that went 0-19 against ACC opponents this season. But the Irish are still in it at Barclays Center, where they are 9-2 all-time.
Virginia Tech: With victories over top-10 opponents Virginia, Duke and North Carolina as part of a winning record in ACC play, it would seem the Hokies have their NCAA Tournament spot secured. Still, this was an awfully disappointing way to make a postseason exit. Virginia Tech had been 3-0 in ACC Tournament openers under coach Buzz Williams.
Notre Dame: Colson and Farrell were both out injured when the Irish lost 88-66 at Duke (25-6) in late January during Notre Dame’s seven-game slide. … Duke is 6-0 at Barclays Center, by the way.
Virginia Tech: Expecting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.