DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Notre Dame's days in the Big East are over. Its troubles in the NCAA tournament linger.
For the third time in four years, the Fighting Irish were bounced in their first game, upended Friday night 76-58 by an impressive Iowa State team that beat Notre Dame on the inside, from the outside and every way possible.
Next year, Notre Dame begins anew as a member of the reconfigured Atlantic Coast Conference. But although they'll be in a different league, the Fighting Irish will carry a label as a team unable to advance in March.
"I really would think it's the next step for our program," said coach Mike Brey, who had the Irish in the NCAA field for the fourth straight year and ninth time in 13 seasons. "We've been so consistent in the regular season, and we haven't been able to do much here. That's what keeps me up at night and keeps me trying to figure out how we can be better at it.
"That's the unfinished business. This is a hump we can't get over yet, but we'll keep trying to figure it out."
Freshman forward Georges Niang matched a season high with 19 points and Melvin Ejim added 17 for Iowa State, which showed there's a whole lot more than just 3-pointers in its arsenal.
The 10th-seeded Cyclones (23-11) will play No. 2 seed Ohio State on Sunday. The Buckeyes advanced with a 95-70 thrashing of Iona.
Iowa State led the nation in 3-pointers this season, but with Niang posting up down low with an array of moves in the lane, the Cyclones were just as effective from short range in ousting the Fighting Irish (25-10), who committed 14 of their 17 turnovers in the first half.
The Cyclones came in with a reputation for being good outside shooters, but they can play down low, too.
"They're so potent offensively," Brey said. "They keep you spread, and at times I really felt it was men playing against boys. They're really, really good. They're men."
Tom Knight and Jack Cooley scored 14 apiece to pace the Fighting Irish, who walked off the floor looking as sickly green as the trim on their uniforms.
"You know, it hurts," said guard Jerian Grant, who had a team-high five turnovers. "All season, it felt like we had a team this year that could make a deep run in March, and I really believed that. I just feel like we picked the worst day to have our worst game."