Brooklyn, N.Y. – The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are heading to the Sweet 16 in Philadelphia after defeating the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 76-75 on Sunday afternoon. Freshman Rex Pflueger scored on a tip in the final seconds to secure the win for the Irish.
In what was an entertaining game from the start, the Irish battled back-and-forth with the resilient Lumberjacks. The Irish led 42-41 at the half thanks to a 3-pointer at the buzzer from junior V.J. Beachem, who also had a 4-point play earlier in the half.
Irish guard Demetrius Jackson got the crowd into the game in the second half with a powerful dunk to go up 52-47 with 16 minutes to go. However, SFA battled back to tie the game at 64 with 7:05 to play.
The Lumberjacks were led by senior Thomas Walkup who scored 21 points and was crucial in their win over West Virginia on Friday.
SFA led 75-70 late, but the Irish were able to battle back by getting to the free throw line and forcing the Lumberjacks into a stagnant offense. In the final seconds, Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey chose not to call a timeout, and the risk worked out for the better.
The Irish were led by forward Zach Auguste, who had a double-double and was nearly perfect from the field (8-9). Other players who stood out were Jackson with 18 points and Beachem added 15.
However, the hero of the day was Pflueger, who’s only basket of the day happened to be the shot of his life.
The Irish will play the winner of the Wisconsin vs. Xavier game later today.