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  • Notre Dame guard Matt Farrell (5) goes up for a shot against Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game during the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Friday, March 10, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

  • Florida State guard Braian Angola-Rodas (11) puts up a shot against Notre Dame forward V.J. Beachem (3) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game during the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Friday, March 10, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

  • Notre Dame guard Matt Farrell (5) dives for a loose ball against Florida State guard Terance Mann (14) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game during the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Friday, March 10, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

  • Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson (35) puts up a shot against Florida State guard Trent Forrest (3) and forward Jonathan Isaac (1) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game during the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Friday, March 10, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

  • Notre Dame guard Steve Vasturia (32) goes up for a shot against Florida State in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game during the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Friday, March 10, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
March 11, 2017 1:16 AM

Notre Dame beats Florida St to reach ACC final

MICHAEL J. LEWIS | For The Journal Gazette

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – There isn’t yet a Notre Dame campus in Brooklyn, but the Irish men's basketball team would certainly argue there should be.

Once again making themselves at home at Barclays Center, the third-seeded Irish used a big first half run to grab Friday night’s ACC semifinal against second-seeded Florida State by the throat then holding on for a 77-73 win.

The last few minutes weren’t pretty, as the Irish missed consecutive free throws and saw a Florida State 3-point attempt with 33 seconds left that would’ve cut the deficit to two go off the rim.

But Notre Dame had done enough before then to secure the victory.

For the second time in three years the Irish will play for an ACC championship, taking on 5th-seeded Duke at 9 p.m. Saturday for the title. Duke, which be playing its fourth game in four days, defeated North Carolina in the first semifinal, 93-83.

The Blue Devils won the team’s only meeting this year, 84-74 on Jan. 30 in South Bend, but both teams are playing much better than they were at that point.

“We believe here,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said of Barclays Center. “When you had the success we had in the NCAA Tournament last year, it was so dramatic. We talked about the karma when we came back here for the Legends Classic (in November). We feel good about this building.”

It sure showed on Friday. Notre Dame (25-8), now 7-1 at Barclays Center, took a 16-point lead into halftime and then just kept on scoring. Seldom-used forward Matt Ryan, who averages just 3.3 points per game, scored 11 points to aid four Notre Dame players in double figures.

Asked to account for his output, Ryan said simply, “I got more playing time.

“Usually when I make my first shot, I stay in,” the sophomore forward said. “I felt good tonight and I hit a few shots so I got to stay in.”

Steve Vasturia and Bonzie Colson each scored 18 for the Irish (Colson had six boards and made two big free throws in the final minute), while Matt Farrell had 15 points and six assists.

As well as they played, the Irish had to sweat a bit in the final minutes, as an 18-point lead was whittled to five, 73-68, with 44 seconds to go.

Notre Dame then missed two straight free throws, and Florida State had a couple of 3-point attempts to cut into the lead even further, but they rimmed out, and Notre Dame survived.

The Seminoles (25-8) got back in the game led by Braina Angola-Rojas (17 points), and Dwayne Bacon (18 points).

“I think that was a good in-game situation for us, to have that happen,” said guard Rex Pfleuger. “Obviously we don’t want to be in that situation, but that’s just learning points for us now.”

Once again using outstanding outside shooting (48 percent), and pinpoint three-point marksmanship (13-27) the Irish showed that their late-January struggles, when they lost five out of six games, seem to be a thing of the past.

And now the Irish get a rematch with Duke, which ought to be the more tired group, having played one more game to reach the championship game than Notre Dame has.

“I think it’s safe to say we’re definitely excited,” Farrell said. “But we’ve got a quick turnaround because we play another really good team tomorrow.”