SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The last time Notre Dame was at home, T.J. Gibbs was inconsolable after a narrow loss to Virginia Tech despite his do-everything effort and Matt Farrell was not even in uniform.
The script was flipped for both 10 nights later on Tuesday, and the Fighting Irish were high-scoring beneficiaries, racing past Boston College 96-85.
Gibbs scored 22 first-half points and finished with a career-high 28, and fellow guard Farrell added 19 points and seven assists, as Notre Dame overcame a record-setting effort by Boston College’s Jerome Robinson to end its longest losing streak in nine years at seven games.
“It was good to see both of them explode together,” Irish coach Mike Brey said of Gibbs and Farrell, who had missed five of the last eight games due to injury and been largely ineffective in the others.
“It was good to see them attacking together,” Brey said. “We gotta build on that, because we need them both trying to get 40. They gotta get us 40 (combined). If they can get us 40, then we can chip in around that.”
Robinson got more than that all by himself.
He finished with a career-high 46 points, shattering the 40-year-old standard for an opponent at Purcell Pavilion. Lowes Moore scored 40 points for West Virginia in January 1978.
“He was unbelievable,” Brey said of BC’s 6-foot-5 junior guard who is leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in league play at 25.2 points per game. “Rex (Pflueger) is our best defender, and then we also had T.J. on him, and we tried to double every ball screen, and then he posted us, but . how do you escape that? Just score (96).”
Notre Dame (14-10, 4-7) notched its highest-scoring conference game of the season.
The Irish had averaged just 64.3 points over their last four outings, and hadn’t cracked 40 percent shooting from the field in any of their last eight. They hit 53 percent Tuesday, including a sizzling 16 of 29 from outside the arc. They also committed a season-low five turnovers.
Martinas Geben and John Mooney scored 16 points apiece for ND, with Geben adding 11 rebounds.
Gibbs, a sophomore, went 8 of 11 from the field, including five 3-pointers, and 7 of 7 at the free-throw line, yet that was still overshadowed by Robinson, a junior who was 15-of-23 shooting, with seven 3-pointers, and 9 of 9 at the stripe.
Ky Bowman added 11 points and Steffon Mitchell grabbed 11 rebounds for BC (14-10, 4-7).
Notre Dame led 60-42 with 14:32 to go, but the Eagles got as close at 70-68 with seven minutes left before the Irish pulled away, leading by as many as 15 in the closing minutes.
The Irish beat BC for the 10th straight time and avoided what would’ve been its longest losing streak since 1965-66.
Notre Dame: The Irish strengthened their fading NCAA Tourney hopes with the win. Notre Dame still anticipates the return of injured Bonzie Colson — who is averaging 21.4 points in 14 games this season — in time for the ACC Tournament, if not before the end of the regular season. The Irish still own key opportunities to impress the NCAA committee, including away games with No. 2 Virginia and No. 21 North Carolina. They’ll have to keep winning, though. A year ago, Wake Forest made the NCAA field at just 9-9 in the ACC, although 10-8 Syracuse did not.
Boston College: The Eagles’ NCAA Tourney hopes were damaged with their fourth loss in five games. There aren’t many chances left, either, to impress the committee. BC’s only two remaining games against currently ranked teams will both come against No. 25 Miami.
SEE YOU SOON
Not only do Notre Dame and Boston College have identical records, but they’ll face off at BC on Feb. 17.
LINING UP DIFFERENTLY
While the Eagles have featured the same starting lineup for all 11 of their ACC games, the Irish have had to mix and match repeatedly due to the injuries to Colson, Farrell and D.J. Harvey, who’s expected to be out for a couple more games.
ND’s used eight different lineups in its 11 league contests.
Notre Dame: The Irish are home Saturday to Florida State, one of just three games remaining this season at Purcell Pavilion.
Boston College: The Eagles host Miami on Saturday. BC is 12-2 at home, 4-2 in the league and also has just three home games left.