No. 21 Cincinnati Bearcats (13-3 1-2) again failed to hold down their home court, falling 66-60 to the No. 17 Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Monday night.
The new-look Bearcats were showing off some smooth black-on-black uniforms given to them by Adidas, but the jerseys weren’t enough for the Bearcats to pull this one out at home.
The Bearcats started out hot and at one point had a 20 to 11 lead behind a very balanced scoring attack. From then on, it was all Notre Dame. Notre Dame then hit three consecutive 3’s to tie the game.
At this point Cincinnati and Notre Dame exchanged a barrage of threes for an 8 minute span. From 10:17 to 2:07 both teams hit 9 threes without making a two point field goal, Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant ended the streak with a two point jumper.
The Fighting Irish went into halftime with a 32-28 lead behind their stellar three point shooting. Four players combined for 6 of 8 shooting behind the arc. Cincinnati also had five 3’s of their own, and were led by Kilpatrick and Parker with 7 points each at half. Cheikh Mbodj was a force defensively; he had 4 blocks at halftime.
The second half started out just like the first ended, with Notre Dame making their first two three point attempts, but switched up their offense towards the end of the second half. The Irish were just as efficient though, finding many wide open layups.
Cincinnati showed some offensive efficiency as well, shooting 57% in the second half. The only issue with that was the Bearcats didn’t shoot many shots because of turnovers. Coach Cronin said after the game, “In my opinion, the seven second half turnovers beat us.”
Cronin also pointed his finger at the putrid free throw shooting(5 of 11), “You got to make your free throws versus really good teams.”
Kilpatrick lead the Bearcats in shooting with 15 points, no other Bearcat was in double figures. Cashmere Wright also added 8 assists with only 1 turnover. Cincinnati as a whole had a very impressive 18 assists to only 9 turnovers.
Notre Dame finished with all 5 starters in double figures and were led by Jerian Grant’s 19 points. Grant made two huge shots towards the end of the shot clock to seemingly put the dagger in Cincinnati.
This was a tough loss for the Bearcats to lose at home, but Coach Cronin wasn’t overly upset. Coach said, “I told them I’ve lost games before, nobody goes undefeated. It’s how you play. We have two rules; you have great effort and a great attitude. I thought we had both tonight.“ Cincinnati will need both of those characteristics to end this losing streak.
When asked about how his squad will handle this situation Cronin said, “I told them we are used to being in this spot. I’m used to people second guessing me as a coach at Cincinnati and I’m used to people bagging on our team and not thinking we are any good. So I’m very comfortable in this situation.”
We’ll see if that comfort translates into another bounce back road win for the Cincinnati Bearcats who face Rutgers at the Rutgers Athletic Center on Saturday at 8pm.