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Georgia Tech's 17-point Comeback Falls Short in 84-80 Season-Ending Loss to Notre Dame

Georgia Tech's season ends with their third loss of the season to Notre Dame

Georgia Tech almost completed an amazing second half comeback today in the opening round of the ACC Tournament, but crucial mistakes in the final minutes ended the Yellow Jackets season. 

With 13 minutes to go in the game, Georgia Tech trailed by 17 against Notre Dame and could not get any stops. Some defensive tweaks and great play from freshman point guard Nait George got Georgia Tech right back in the game, but turnovers and offensive rebounding kept them from keeping their season alive. Damon Stoudamire and the Yellow Jackets now head into a offseason where he will continue to make moves to upgrade the roster. Today did show that he has two great building blocks with George and Ndongo. 

Let's recap a wild first game of the ACC Tournament. 

There were no changes to the starting five for Georgia Tech today.

Nait George, Miles Kelly, Kowacie Reeves, Tafara Gapare, and Baye Ndongo were the first five on the floor for the Yellow Jackets. 

Despite going up against one of the ACC's worst offenses, Georgia Tech was unable to guard Notre Dame, basically right from the start. At the first timeout with 15:59, the Fighting Irish already held a 12-5 lead. Georgia Tech was struggling to get open looks as well. 

While Notre Dame might be near the bottom of the ACC when it comes to PPG, they have one of the most impressive freshmen in the country. Markus Burton is one of the top guards in the ACC and paired with Braeden Shrewsberry, Notre Dame has a tough backcourt to cover. 

Georgia Tech has a young, talented point guard as well though. Nait George had a great start to the game, hitting three of his first four three-point attempts and scoring 11 points. 

The problem in the first half though was that Georgia Tech could not get a stop against one of the ACC's worst defenses. Notre Dame was getting a lot of open looks and was not facing a lot of resistance from the Yellow Jackets defense. 

Notre Dame went into the half with a 45-35 lead and was shooting 62% from the field and 55% from three. Burton had 15 points while Shrewsberry had nine. 

Georgia Tech was shooting 44% from the field, but only 27% from three. George led the way with 11 points and was the only Yellow Jacket to hit a three in the first half. He and Ndongo combined for 23 of the Yellow Jackets 35 first-half points. 

The start of the second half was more or less a continuation of the first half. 

George hit a three to open the second half for Georgia Tech and the lead was cut to seven. The defense could not stop Shrewsberry though and the Fighting Irish got the lead up to 17 points. 

The Yellow Jackets were not done though. In the next three minutes, Georgia Tech cut the lead to nine points and trailed 70-61. They were putting full-court pressure on the Fighting Irish and forcing them into bad decisions. The length and athleticism of Gapare and Ndongo were giving Notre Dame fits. Georgia Tech is usually the team that struggles with turnovers, but the Yellow Jackets 

A huge play came just moments later. After cutting the lead to seven, Kelly got a steal and George hit a three on the other end and got fouled in the process. He nailed the free-throw to finish off the four-point play and it was all of sudden a three-point game. 

Mar 12, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets forward Baye Ndongo (11) shoots the ball as Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Braeden Shrewsberry (11) defends in the first half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 12, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets forward Baye Ndongo (11) shoots the ball as Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Braeden Shrewsberry (11) defends in the first half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame led by six 77-71 at the six-minute mark when Deebo Coleman got a three-pointer to roll in and cut the lead to three. 

Then the star freshman point guard for the Yellow Jackets went to work, hitting back-to-back buckets to give Georgia Tech their first lead of the game. 

After a pair of free throws from Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish got the lead back, but not for long. Sturdivant missed a shot on the other end, but Ndongo got the rebound and the basket to give Georgia Tech the lead back. The defense for the Yellow Jackets was strong on the next possession, forcing a missed shot from Notre Dame and getting the ball back up one point. 

Then, turnovers became an issue again. After having only one in the whole second half, George had two on back-to-back possessions, both when Georgia Tech could not afford them. Notre Dame turned them into points and after the Yellow Jackets came back from 17 points down in the second half, their season ended with an 84-80 loss. It was a great comeback, but the offseason now begins for Georgia Tech. 

After a great first half, Georgia Tech's defense on Burton was much better in the second half, holding him to just six points and getting him in foul trouble. He was able to come up big with the basket to take the lead though. He and Shrewsberry were a tough cover for the Yellow Jackets today. 

It was a great game for the freshman George and Ndongo. They combined for 46 points and were the best players on the floor at times. You also were shown the things they need to continue to work on. Ndongo missed several makeable shots and George had the two critical turnovers at the end of the game. It was a great season for those guys and they should pair nicely with the class that Stoudamire is bringing in. 

Let's see what the offseason will bring.