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ND Basketball vs. Louisville Detailed Recap: The Bird Whisperer Soared, A Loss Was His Reward

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The Irish lost another heartbreaker despite a career night from Martinas “The Bird Whisperer” Geben. Here’s Pat Rick’s firsthand account of how it happened.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Folks, there are no words right now to describe this second big gut-punch in a row that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team took in their 82-78 loss to the Louisville Cardinals last night.

Even typically upbeat and garrulous ND head coach Mike Brey was struggling to talk through it and make sense of it:

Notre Dame Basketball Postgame Presser: Coach Brey

Posted by One Foot Down - For Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I’ll leave most of what I’m thinking in the Stray Observations section, but I just want to say this one thing: Martinas Geben has been a GODDAMN MAN this year, and I’d like to officially award him the coveted middle name of...

***ANYONE WHO IS OFFENDED BY VERY OCCASIONAL SWEARING, PLEASE SKIP THE NEXT LINE AND JUMP TWO LINES DOWN TO THE SENTENCE WITH MORE ASTERISKS***

MOTHER FUCKING

***OKAY, THE CURSE WORD IS PAST US, LET’S MOVE ON***

Martinas “The M.F. Bird Whisperer” Geben had himself a NIGHT, scoring 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting, and pulling down SEVENTEEN rebounds, including 11 (!!!) offensive ones.

He was an animal (pun very clearly intended) and the only consistently-reliable scoring option for the Irish, as the rest of the team shot 30% from the field (20-of-66), including Farrell shooting 32% (14% after halftime), Gibbs shooting 29%, and Pflueger shooting 12.5%. Woof.

Marty, you truly soared tonight, just like your feathered friends to whom you love to whisper sweet nothings.

You deserved better in terms of the result of this game, but for now, me dedicating this recap to you and your greatness will have to do in terms of your reward for your brilliant play.

Pregame

I had to come straight from work and got there just a few minutes before tip. Absolutely nothing to say here.

Starters

Louisville

#0 VJ King, G, Sophomore

#4 Quentin Snider, G, Senior

#5 Malik Williams, F, Freshman

#13 Ray Spalding, F, Junior

#22 Deng Adel, G/F, Junior

Notre Dame

#0 Rex Pflueger, G/F, Junior

#3 DJ Harvey, G/F, Freshman

#5 Matt Farrell, G, Senior

#10 TJ Gibbs, G, Sophomore

#23 Martinas “The M.F. Bird Whisperer” Geben, F, Senior

1st Half

This game couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, in my opinion, and that’s mostly because when Purcell played Cathy Richardson’s classic “Here Come the Irish” before tip-off, the Leprechaun Legion sang along SO LOUD. The students were great all game and this was probably my favorite moment in a night of pretty solid moments for them. It’s very nice to have all the students back on campus.

As the game tipped, the Purcell “Noise Meter” showed the crowd at a “Roaring” level, which is pretty solid for the very beginning of the game, in my humble opinion.

In the early going, neither team could seemingly make a shot, including Matt Farrell, whose first field goal attempt after missing 3.5 games with a sprained ankle was a contested layup that did not fall in.

Even in the small sample size of the first couple minutes, it was clear that Louisville’s length would be a problem for the Irish, as multiple ND passes were deflected by Louisville defenders.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

About 2 minutes in, DJ Harvey finally got the scoring going by draining a 3. Right after this, I noticed that Matt Farrell had apparently shaved his face before this game. I, along with the rest of the fans, were very appreciative that he would get all cleaned up just for us <3 .

Over the next couple minutes, it would be all Louisville, as the Cardinals began to find the bottom of the net and went on a 7-0 run capped by a Quentin Snider 3-pointer. It was 7-3 at the first media timeout.

After the timeout, the Irish offense finally got into gear, with Matt Farrell driving into the lane for a nifty layup, and then later on setting up The M.F. Bird Whisperer for his first of various dunks on the night to make it 9-7 Louisville. Farrell officially proclaimed himself as “back” on the very next possession, when he stole the ball and laid it in in transition to tie the game at 9 and bring the crowd, now very, very loud, to their feet.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame
Matt Farrell’s “back”...get it???
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

After a Louisville turnover, TJ Gibbs put together a very nice take to the basket, where he went up and under to finish and give the Irish a 2-point lead with 13:15 to play in the half.

At the next media timeout, Purcell presented Fan of the Game, which really threw me off because they almost always give that out at the beginning of halftime. Yesterday’s big winner was Tom Rogers, who has worked in the Notre Dame Procurement office for 37 years and has avidly followed the Fighting Irish basketball team for 44, citing his favorite memory as the January 19, 1974 upset of UCLA that brought their 88-game win streak to an end. Tom received the typical commemorative basketball for his fantastic fan-hood.

Before action resumed, the video board showed the Dance Cam while “Apache (Jump On It)” by the Sugarhill Gang blared over the loudspeakers. The crowd was DIGGIN’ IT, and I saw scores of people dancing their hearts out to the classic hit. The camera panned over the front of the student section and showed my guy Brandon AKA Golden Jacket Dude, and I noticed he was sporting some amazing golden shoes as well. That ensemble is even better than I thought it was.

Matt Farrell brought everyone’s attention back to the court by burying a shot clock buzzer-beating 3 from the shamrock to give ND the 14-11 lead. The shot was reminiscent of Jerian Grant’s long 3 against Duke 3 years ago, and it spurred the loudest moment in Purcell in a long time (in recorded Noise Meter history), scoring a “Full Domer” on the meter. Purcell was BUMPIN’.

This was the very next line in my game notes right after that very big, loud, first half moment:

“i think mooney got a haircut too”

On the next possession, Farrell pulled up off the dribble and drained another trifecta, forcing Louisville to take a timeout down 17-11 with 10:54 left in the half. My reaction:

After a Louisville three, Austin Torres (???) made a beautiful bounce pass to The M.F. Bird Whisperer for another dunk, but the Cardinals responded quickly with a Quentin Snider jumper to make it 19-16, Irish.

After Farrell took Anas Mahmoud to school off the dribble for a layup and after the Irish got a stop, DJ Harvey went down with what appeared to be a non-contact knee injury. He was writhing in pain on the court for a bit before being helped off to the locker room. He would not return, and will have an MRI done on his knee tomorrow to assess the damage, taking away a very talented offensive player from the Irish’s rotation.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

On the next Irish possession, Torres made a no-look pass (Torres???????) to a cutting M.F. Bird Whisperer, who went for the dunk, had the ball pop up into the air, and then watched it fall back down into the hoop to give ND a 23-16 lead heading into the under-8 timeout. This was Marty M.F. Bird Whisperer Geben’s night, you guys.

During the timeout, the Pom Squad came out onto the court to do their typical “Pom Squad” performance without pom poms. Someone really needs to tell them that this is false advertising.

At the end of the break, stats were being shown on the video board, and Anas Mahmoud’s last name was spelled wrong. It said “Mahmound” and I decided then and there that I’m going to call him that from now on.

We also had our first T-Shirt Toss Time during this timeout (it was a really eventful timeout!), and as I observed the typical behavior of grown-ass adults going nuts for low-quality t-shirts that probably won’t be in their size, I thought about how interesting it would be to conduct a psychological study on the effects of being offered free t-shirts. I feel like it just changes people.

Back to the game -- Matty Farrell continued to make his presence known, coming up with another steal and converting it into an and-one on the other end. He would score 15 of the team’s 28 first half points and did a fantastic job jumping right back into things after missing a couple weeks.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

With 7 minutes remaining in the half, the Irish led 26-16 and looked to be in control.

At this point, I’d like to make an observation about something one of the ND players tends to do on the court.

***First, though, if you are a referee, please do not read the next line and skip to the next line with asterisks***

Nikola Djogo palms/carries the ball almost every time he dribbles the basketball

***okay, it’s safe to read again***

At this point, I’d also like to point out how much Rex Pflueger is struggling on offense. I think it’s mostly mental, as he just seems to be rushing everything and making poor decisions. He had A LOT of passes get tipped, deflected, or almost stolen, and was lucky to not have more than the 1 turnover he had.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

TJ Gibbs has been similar, but more inconsistent at it. He’s had stretches where he looks under control and awesome, and then he will just make a mad dash to the hoop and hope for a foul call. He also seems to dribble it around without accomplishing anything more than he should. Just my two cents.

During the next timeout, the video board was doing a DID YOU KNOW segment and pointed out that from 2009 to 2013, these two teams played 8 games, and 6 of those went to overtime. This was a very interesting fact, and one that was especially relevant, given that this game would end up going to double overtime.

The final few minutes of the half were all Louisville, as the ND offense seemingly shut down while Louisville found its stroke. Deng Adel knocked down a 3 and got himself a nice dunk, Jordan Nwora and Ray Spalding got some way-too-easy layups, and Snider dropped in another jumper. Before the crowd knew it, Louisville had taken a 30-26 lead with less than a minute remaining in the half.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

FINALLY, John Mooney scored 2 points for the Irish on a tip-slam that did the same thing Geben’s dunk did earlier, bouncing up and out of the rim and then back in again, giving us the 30-28 score that we’d take into halftime, with Louisville in the lead and enjoying a 14-2 run to end the half.

Halftime Stats

Notre Dame: Matt Farrell led the way with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting, Martinas The Bird Whisperer M.F. Geben scored 6 points and had 7 rebounds, and the rest of the Irish team was just plain bad. Overall, ND shot 39% from the floor, 21% from deep, and were 1-for-1 from the free throw line in the first half. The Irish were out-rebounding the Cardinals 21-15 at the time, but had already accumulated 10 turnovers to go along with only 5 assists.

Louisville: Ray Spalding was the leading scorer (tied with 2 others) and rebounder for the Cardinals with 7 points and 8 rebounds, with Quentin Snider and Deng Adel each chipping in 7 points of their own. Louisville shot 41% from the field, 27% from deep, and 3-of-3 from the charity stripe.

There were only 7 total fouls in the first half from both teams combined -- the refs were letting some things go for sure, but both teams were generally playing sound, smart defense as well.

Halftime Show

I’m probably one of the most critical halftime show reviewers in the world (if only because there probably aren’t many of those at all, let alone overly-critical ones), but I can safely say that last night’s show was fantastic.

First, the Jesse Harper award was given to Roger Validserri for all his work at Notre Dame — and one fun fact I learned about him was that he had all 5 of his children attend ND, with 4 of them earning monograms as fencers. Can you imagine being the one Valdiserri kid who didn’t earn a monogram as a fencer? OUCH.

Then, we got to the main event, famed contortionist Sofie Dossi, whose ridiculous flexibility has gotten her on America’s Got Talent and made her act pretty famous over the past few years.

They set up this platform thing for her with some poles with handles for her to hold onto as she did her contortionist thing, and she went to work immediately, doing moves that I don’t know the names of or how to describe them, but I’m going to awkwardly try to anyway.

She pulled off the “upside-down splits while dancing” move with ease, wowing the crowd before bending her legs all the way over her back and shoulders so that her feet were in front of her face. What.

The entire show was like that, with her positioning her body in such unnatural and unnerving positions that I couldn’t help but think that her act was basically something out of a horror movie, but far enough away from me that I’m not scared of it.

She continued her act in flawless fashion, doing some weird rotating thing on one hand with her legs in varying poses, then doing this legs-over-the-shoulders bicycle pedaling thing that seemed like it would dislocate something, somewhere.

She followed that up by once again bringing her legs all the way over her back and shoulders, and then pushing her feet even further than before, so that they were below her hands. Good God.

She then did some spinning around on her hands while her feet were in that position, and I think I passed out from just the thought of how much pain I’d be in if I tried to do something like that.

Then, she was handed a bow and arrow.

Wait.

What?

Wait.

No.

Wait.

What?

No way.

NO WAY.

And before she could even steel herself to do it, I knew what she was going to do.

This girl’s about to shoot a dang bow and arrow at a target with her feet.

Sure enough, that’s exactly what Sofie did, and she absolutely nailed the shot, bringing the crowd to their feet and ending the show.

On a scale of 1 to Red Panda, most halftime acts do not come close. This one, however, was ridiculous, and although the contortionist bit on its own was pretty damn good and would have gotten her about a 7, the whole shooting an arrow with your feet thing earned Sofie some bonus points.

I give her a 9, straight up. She earned it.

Pre-2nd Half Warmups

DJ Harvey was not in warmups, confirming that he was definitely out for this game and potentially out for a little while with that injured knee.

Just before the half, Purcell began playing “Don’t Stop Believing” and it appeared as though the students/fans were about to belt it out, but then Purcell changed to a new song. Woof.

Finally, the DJ threw on some “Crazy Train,” because of course they did, and we were off into the second half of play.

2nd Half

To begin the half, the video board urged fans to stand up and make noise until Louisville scored their first basket of the half. Most fans did not do this, but everyone in the arena might as well not have done it, as Deng Adel drained a 3 roughly 20-25 seconds into play, making it 33-28, Cardinals.

Pflueger continued to spazz out on offense, picking up an offensive foul as he careened out of control with the ball.

During the first timeout of the second half, they began showing #IrishVision tweets up on the video board, and in doing so they had a split screen going where they showed 2 tweeted images at once. This was garbage, as you could not see the full screen picture for either one, and thus I didn’t get to fully experience some probably fantastic pics. Do better, you guys.

After yet another T-Shirt Toss Time (during which I noticed two little kids wearing Steph Curry jerseys for some reason), play resumed. This, of course, was not before the video board treated the fans to another classic @ND_Whiteboard prank, this time at the expense of Deng Adel: “Deng still sleeps with a nightlight.”

Got him!!!!

Okay, back to the action. With Louisville up 35-28 and in danger of blowing the doors off this one, Matt Farrell put together a nice combo with a pump-fake, dribble, side-step, and three pointer after the kick-out from Mooney, who only had the ball thanks to a Pflueger offensive board earlier in the possession.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Pflueger may not have been handling the ball or shooting well, but his hustle and defense were still as strong as always.

Ray Spalding responded immediately, knocking down a mid-range jumper to put the Cards up 37-31. ND then fed the M.F. Bird Whisperer, who backed his man down and got a nice jump hook bucket. Spalding once again responded, though (he did that a lot in this one), hitting another jumper.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Mooney decided to get in on the action, then, and drained a 3-pointer to make it 39-36, Louisville. The crowd came back alive with that 3, as the Noise Meter showed “Cranked” with 16 minutes to go in regulation.

After a Cardinals basket and a Pflueger 3 (his only made shot of the game), the Irish were looking at a 2-point deficit. That was quickly erased, though, as TJ Gibbs got a layup in transition set up by a nice cross-court pass from Farrell, tying things at 41 and sending the crowd into a renewed frenzy.

We went to another timeout, and during that timeout, George Bashura of Her Loyal Sons — who was sitting next to me in the press box — pointed out how many 4’s and 1’s were on the scoreboard. He was absolutely right, as it was 41-41 with 14:41 left in the game. This paragraph is worthless, but I enjoyed writing it nonetheless.

The cheerleaders led the crowd in a “Go!” “Irish!” chant, and I was disappointed to find the students do not do the alternative “Mike!” “Brey!” chant instead anymore. I liked that a lot better.

On the next possession for the Irish, The M.F. Bird Whisperer got the ball at the top of the key and was left pretty wide open. With visions of his made 3 against UNC on Saturday dancing in their heads, the students clamored for him to let loose another deep ball. Alas, Marty passed on the shot, showing way too much maturity for a college kid. Let ‘er rip every now and then, Bird Whisperer!!!

On the other end, as Mahmound began shooting a couple free throws, the students elected to go with the very simple but very effective chant of “FBI! FBI!” Mahmound missed both free throws (2 of the 3 total ones Louisville missed all game), proving once again that the Leprechaun Legion is the best student section free throw defense in the country.

Brey went with a small lineup for a little while after that, keeping the M.F. Bird Whisperer, Mooney, and Burns all on the bench and sticking with a small lineup of Farrell, Gibbs, Pflueger, Torres, and Djogo.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

That group was able to force a turnover and then get a couple Djogo free throws to go up 43-41. After a timeout that featured the Pom Squad actually living up to their namesake and also the students not screaming the lyrics to “Mr. Brightside” when the band played it (disappointing, although there were a number of them singing heartily along), Spalding was able to hit a couple free throws to tie things up with 11:58 left.

After a few questionable calls and a couple Louisville baskets to make it 47-43, Cardinals, Farrell found Geben for a layup to put the Irish down 2. Louisville’s Ryan McMahon, though, used all of that high school player body of his to drain a very deep 3 (similar to Farrell’s earlier in the game), giving UL a 50-45 lead.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Gibbs came back with his own response, though, jab-stepping a defender off of him to create space for a 3 that he buried, cutting the deficit to just two. After a stop and an offensive rebound by the Irish (Pflueger/Farrell made it happen), Gibbs threw home another deep ball to put ND up 1 with 9 minutes left. The crowd, at this point, was deafening. “Full Domer” level for sure.

From there, the game went back-and-forth, as Louisville would score on an easy basket from Deng, but then Gibbs took his man off the dribble for a layup of his own. With ND leading 53-52 at the under-8 timeout, and with Louisville having just turned it over, the Purcell DJ hit the “Play ‘Sandstorm’ ” button, and the students LOVED IT. They put on the Dance Cam and a small child caused roar after roar from the crowd as he danced with his tongue out and an intense stare into the camera that can only be described as “my parents let me have as much candy as I wanted from the concessions stand.”

After a couple Farrell free throws to extend the lead to 3, Rex Pflueger picked up his 5th foul with just under 7 minutes to play, taking the Irish’s best on-ball defender out fo the equation. This would definitely hurt ND down the stretch.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

After some Cardinals free throws, Mooney drained another 3 on a nice kick-out from a penetrating Matt Farrell, giving Notre Dame a 58-54 lead with 6:22 left.

Not long after, Gibbs was going up to grab a pass from a teammate saving the ball from out of bounds, and his elbow inadvertently got into a Louisville player’s face after that player had definitely fouled Gibbs. The refs called Gibbs for the foul, though, and after a review it was ruled that the elbow did not warrant a flagrant.

It was a pretty weak call, from what we saw in the one replay we were shown, and the students especially thought so, considering they chanted “BULLLLLLLSHIIITTTTT!” over and over again at the refs.

With about 5 minutes to go, ND still clung to a 2-point lead. At that moment, The M.F. Bird Whisperer made a gorgeous pass to a cutting Djogo, who dunked the ball and watched it do for a third time what Geben and Mooney had already seen it do, as it bounced up and out of the hoop before falling back through to give ND a 60-56 advantage.

Quentin Snider dropped in one of his patented momentum-killing jumpers, and then after Mahmound blocked Farrell to get Louisville the ball back, he managed to get a tip-in with less than 4 minutes to go, tying it up at 60.

Notre Dame put together a very bad possession that led to a shot clock violation after the best shot the Irish could muster was a three pointer from Gibbs that went over the backboard, and then we headed into the final media timeout of regulation with 3:25 left and a tie ballgame.

The band played Cascada’s “Everytime We Touch,” to fill the break, and that boost of energy was desperately needed by the fans. During the timeout, I definitely briefly saw a line of ladies sitting in the stands somewhere wearing golden jackets. Long lost aunts of Golden Jacket Dude Brandon, perhaps???

The Irish finally got a stop when Louisville turned it over with a 3-second violation, but could only muster another shot clock violation on the next possession, despite both a timeout and a cameo from Jerry Tillery on the video board, grinning and giving a thumbs up to the camera.

Citrus Bowl presented by Overton's - LSU v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

However, the ND defense came up big, with I believe Mooney blocking a Cardinals shot. Unfortunately, Snider eventually was able to knock down a jumper to give Louisville a 2-point lead with just a minute to go.

Of course, the M.F. Bird Whisperer had an answer, as he missed a shot after backing his man down in the post, but got his own rebound and drew a foul on the put-back. His free throws went something like this:

Swish.

Swish.

With the score at 62-62, the crowd got LOUD and was on their feet, and this inspired Djogo to get a steal and push the ball forward in transition before there being a lot of commotion, Gibbs ending up with the ball under the hoop, Gibbs missing a shot, more commotion, and then the M.F. Bird Whisperer ending up with the rebound as ND called timeout with 16.4 seconds remaining in the tied game.

After a Farrell drive to the rim saw Farrell’s shot get sent into the stands by Mahmound, the Irish had just 3 seconds left with which to work. They got Farrell a fantastic look from 3 for the win, but he missed.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

So, the game headed to overtime, because of course it did.

Overtime #1

Louisville began the first overtime hot, with McMahon draining a corner 3 and the M.F. Bird Whisperer somehow missing the front end of a one-and-one. An Adel jumper pushed the Louisville lead to 5 with 4 minutes to play, instilling a small but growing sense of dread in all Irish fans.

After a Farrell miss, the M.F. Bird Whisperer followed it up nicely to get the offensive board and bucket, making it 67-64 with 3:16 left. ND called a timeout, which enabled the crowd to see that intense kid dancing again. This time, he leaned heavily on dabbing and “the sprinkler” as his dance moves. The crowd ate that shit up.

After some good Torres defense and a deflection from him led to Gibbs pushing it the other way, the Irish found themselves in a short fight for a loose ball with Louisville. ND came out victorious when, of course, the M.F. Bird Whisperer secured the ball and got it moving out to Djogo, who hit a corner three to tie things at 67 with 2:23 left, breathing newer, louder life back into the crowd. Timeout, Louisville.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The timeout from Louisville coach David Padgett seemed to settle down his team, as Snider came back out and immediately got a bucket. Another offensive rebound and put-back by the M.F. Bird Whisperer, though, tied things at 69 with 1:30 left in the extra period.

With just over a minute to play, the Irish got a stop, and on the other end Farrell found THE M.F. BIRD WHISPERER for a slam dunk, leading to a 71-69 ND lead, a Louisville timeout, and a Purcell crowd that was LOUD AS HELL.

This break in the action is when the video board featured a graphic with the M.F. Bird Whisperer’s stats, and I realized he had 18 points and 16 rebounds at that time.

The students noticed, too, and those stats coupled with that dunk had the Leprechaun Legion leading the entire arena in a chant of “MARTY! MARTY! MARTY!” It was ear-splitting and so damn melodious. I almost started crying.

Okay, maybe I was crying a little.

Okay, maybe I was bawling my eyes out.

Anyway, after the timeout, Spalding immediately evened things up with a basket after backing down Torres. The Irish now had the ball with about 0.1 or 0.2 seconds’ difference between the shot and game clocks.

The Irish got Farrell another good look from 3, but it came up way short, and the Cardinals missed a half-court shot attempt.

We headed to double overtime, because of course we did.

Some of us were very excited:

My friend Pat was ready for it
I screenshotted my friend’s Snapchat because I am a horrendous friend

And some of us wanted to make it home by a decent time:

Overtime #2

This is where things fell apart a bit for the Irish. Farrell took and missed a bad step-back three, and Mahmound put in a jump hook on the other side to put Louisville up 73-71.

The M.F. Bird Whisperer then tried to back down Mahmound to tie things up, but ended up getting fouled and missing both free throws. He had to have been exhausted at that point, but no matter what, it was definitely shocking to see him miss 2 free throws.

After another Cardinals basket, Farrell found the M.F. Bird Whisperer for an alley-oop to cut the deficit to two with three minutes to go, but Snider drained a 3 from the corner on the next possession, giving Louisville a 5-point lead that the Irish would not be able to overcome.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Nevertheless, they did try to do so, and put themselves in a position to get it done. The M.F. Bird Whisperer dropped in a long two-pointer (because why the hell not??), and then after another Spalding basket, Farrell drained a three on a nice Djogo pass to make it 80-78 with a minute to play.

On the ensuring possession, Torres manned-up on Spalding and forced a miss that the Irish rebounded. After the M.F. Bird Whisperer managed to deflect a loose ball off Deng Adel out of bounds to keep Irish possession, ND had 15 seconds and a 2-point deficit to work with.

Upon inbounding the ball, TJ Gibbs immediately took it and drove straight to the hoop, challenging Mahmound and a couple other lengthy defenders waiting at the rim for him. He attempted a last-ditch up-and-under shot as he realized he would be blocked otherwise, and with a little contact, was unable to even get the ball up above the rim.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville rebounded it, was fouled, and Snider hit both free throws to seal it.

82-78 final, Louisville.

Final Stats

Notre Dame: Martinas “The M.F. Bird Whisperer” Geben was a man among men last night, scoring 22 points and pulling down 17 rebounds in the losing effort. Matt Farrell added 23 points and 8 assists, and TJ Gibbs contributed 12 points to go along with 8 from John Mooney, 7 from Nik Djogo, and 6 rebounds from Austin Torres. The Irish shot 38% from the field, 29% from deep, and 64% (7-of-11) from the charity stripe. ND won the rebounding battle 48-34, but had 18 turnovers to just 17 assists.

Louisville: Ray Spalding was the high man for the Cardinals, scoring 23 points and snagging 12 rebounds in the win. Quentin Snider added 22 points and 7 assists, Deng Adel scored 14, and Anas Mahmound had 6 rebounds and 4 blocked shots on the evening. Louisville shot 49% from the fiel overall, 35% from 3-point range, and a blistering 15-of-17 (88%) from the free throw line.

Stray Observations

  • That was the first time Louisville had won at ND in 24 years, you guys:
  • Also, it looked like BONZIE went a little less wild with his outfit last night, wearing some unbuttoned, pink shirt/cardigan or something (hard to tell from far away, no pictures available yet of BONZIE on the bench)
  • Also also, why did a photographer even take the below picture? We definitely don’t need this:
NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
  • On a more serious note, that game was, once again, heartbreaking. This team seems to have a rough combination of terrible luck and boneheaded mistakes that juuuuuuust barely lose them these games.

DJ Harvey going down with a knee injury the same night Matt Farrell returned from injury is just cruel. Rex Pflueger managing to foul out with what would end up being 17 minutes of basketball left was both incredibly dumb and incredibly unfortunate. TJ Gibbs going from cold to hot to cold, and ending ND’s final meaningful possession with a headstrong drive to nowhere, was very hard to watch considering how good we know he is.

I’m frustrated just watching this team play, but can’t imagine how frustrated and pissed off and deflated the team and Mike Brey are.

  • Everyone say some prayers for DJ Harvey. Hopefully the news from his MRI tomorrow morning isn’t ACL-level serious. He was starting to really come into his own, in my opinion, and was going to be a critical piece to ND’s potential 9-9 conference season and NCAA Tourney bid. Without him for even part of the next 12 games will be tough. Without him for the whole season will make things very, very tough (not to mention what an injury like that would do to a young player who was just figuring it all out when he went down)
  • Matt Farrell was spectacular in the first half, but he was definitely brought back down to earth after that He shot 2-of-14 from the field after halftime, and that can probably be attributed to a combination of some tough defenders with long arms thrown at him (Darius Perry picking him up before half-court, guys like Adel and Mahmound making it hard for him to get shots off, etc.) and to Farrell just being gassed, having not played basketball for a few weeks and having to then play a double overtime game
NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
  • Rex Pflueger is waaaaaay inside his own head on offense. He’s hesitating on three-pointers, trying to do way too much with his ball handling and passing, and really is just contributing rebounding and hustle on that end of the floor. Brey needs to work some magic and get him to be a positive contributor there, especially in terms of giving the team 8-12 points per game. They need it from him (well, that, and for him to not foul out)
  • TJ Gibbs is going to be an awesome player for ND by the time his career is done, but man does he make some majorly stupid decisions, similar to Pflueger in terms of how careless/reckless he can be.

Gibbs is obviously much better on offense than Pflueger and has stretches where he is just awesome, but then he has spells where he just looks like a baby giraffe trying to dribble to the hoop. He needs to play more under control for a full game before I feel I can trust him in late game situations. I’m very confident he will get there, but he isn’t there yet

  • All the heartbreak aside, it was so incredibly fun having Matt Farrell back. His shooting and passing and quickness on both sides of the ball are just so helpful out there, and I look forward to him continuing to get healthier and back up to speed as the rest of this ACC season plays out
NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
  • And then, of course, there’s my boy Martinas “The M.F. Bird Whisperer” Geben. I’ve already said a ton about him in the last game’s writeup and at the top of this one, but I want to reiterate how not very good he was in his first three seasons at ND, and how ridiculous his jump has been for his senior year.

He’s going to make a lot of money over in Europe after his career at ND is done (hopefully that won’t involve teaming up with the Ball brothers in his home country — that would be terrible).

  • Finally, this squad is still 3-3. There are still 12 games of ACC play left. Do I think ND will win more than 5 or 6 more of those? No, not really. But if they can stay afloat and pick up one or two resume-building wins with Farrell back, this team still has an outside shot at a tourney bid with a good ACC Tournament showing and the potential return of BONZIE. I’m definitely choosing to buy into what Matt Farrell tweeted last night:

These guys play together, they care about each other, and they fight tooth and nail for this team. I think we’ll see some surprising wins sprinkled in amongst the tough-to-swallow losses coming our way over the next 6-8 weeks.