CLARKSBBURG — The No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish won on Tuesday against the No. 8 Parkersburg Catholic Crusaders, 70-69, but it didn’t feel that way inside the locker room.
“They played harder than we did,” ND coach Jarrod West said after his team needed a block and a steal by Joel Maurer on the final possession to prevent PC from overturning a 12-point halftime deficit. “We just had a big-boy meeting in the locker room.”
The Irish only trailed once, at 2-0, built a double-digit lead midway through the second quarter and led by 10 points with 3:49 to go.
ND, though, didn’t make a field goal the rest of the way.
Gabe Zummo was the Irish’s top scorer with 20 points to go with eight rebounds and eight assists, Jaidyn West added 13 points, Maurer tallied 12 points and six rebounds and Tyler Hardesty scored 10.
Cade Ullman scored 26 points and Jeb Boice 12 for Parkersburg Catholic (6-4).
Notre Dame also won the first meeting, 76-59, on Dec. 11.
“They’re not used to losing by double digits on their home floor, so they were motivated tonight,” coach West said.
The Irish (9-1) used an 11-2 run to go up 11-4 midway through the first quarter as Nate Helm and Maurer each scored four, but the Crusaders countered with nine straight points of their own, six by Boice, to even the score at 11.
After another tie at 13, 3s by Hardesty and West moved the ND advantage to six points after one quarter.
Up 20-17, the Irish used a 10-2 burst to extend the lead to double figures; it was a 39-25 game at the half as Zummo hit two late 3s.
But Parkersburg Catholic, down 44-32, went on a 6-2 run to creep back within eight.
“We probably didn’t score on our first six or seven possessions of the half,” coach West said.
It was a 54-44 contest after three quarters.
Just when it seemed like Notre Dame would create separation, Parkersburg Catholic always had an answer.
After layups by West and Elijah Goodman extended the lead to 12 early in the fourth quarter, Jalen Brunny scored the next five points for PC; a stick-back by Zummo of his own miss with 3:49 left made it 66-56, ND, but PC made four free throws to stay within reach.
Notre Dame led, 69-62, after two Zummo makes at the line with 1:38 left, but Ullman hit a 3 with 43.4 seconds left to cut the lead to 70-67.
Zummo had a rare pair of misses from the free throw line, then Ty Sturm made both attempts for PC with 15.8 seconds left.
Notre Dame turned the ball over to give Parkersburg Catholic a chance to win the game, but Maurer came up huge defensively at the rim.
Notre Dame is at Tug Valley on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Sports editor Michael Minnich can be reached at 304-626-1441, by e-mail at email@example.com, or on Twitter @michaelminnich.