Life goes on.
NC State scored the first five points of the second half, then gave up the next 15 to fall down by 10 points, and that proved the turning point in what up until then had been a back-and-forth game.
Neither team found much separation in the first half as both struggled to shoot from the field, and while the struggles generally would continue, that outstanding stretch in the second half by Notre Dame allowed the Irish to keep the Pack at arm’s length.
The Pack fought back, of course—it’s what they do. (And unfortunately what they have to do often.) Casey Morsell drilled a three to cut the Irish margin to three midway through the second, but Notre Dame responded with a three the next time down, then added four more points off of sloppy play by State. Barely a minute after Morsell hit that shot, the lead was back to 10.
Sloppiness defined the second half, which is why State tended to quickly lose any ground it made up on the Irish. There were too many careless turnovers, bad passes, missed free throws, low-percentage shots—you name it.
Dereon Seabron tried to rescue his team by coming alive late after going scoreless for a good portion of the second half, but State just could not do enough things right to get square with Notre Dame. Seabron finished with 21 points on 9-16 shooting.
But Jericole Hellems needed 15 shots to score 14 points, and Terquavion Smith shot 1-9 from the field—Smith didn’t score in the second half. Given their struggles, it’s not surprising that the team failed to average a point per possession.
On the bright side, Casey Morsell finished with 10 points and eight boards, while Cam Hayes hit double figures for the first time since mid-December. Hayes shot 5-7 inside the arc, which is progress. It’s nice to see Morsell string a couple solid efforts together, and maybe Hayes found something to build on, but in the end, we’re left with just one more unpleasant loss.