The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team erased a 16-point first half deficit against the Louisville Cardinals, but were ultimately unable to complete the comeback Saturday, falling 67-64 at Purcell Pavillion.
The Irish fell to 10-6 and 1-4 in the ACC, while the No. 13/11 Cardinals improved to 13-3 and 4-1 in the ACC.
This was the 40th time the Irish and Cardinals had met, and Louisville held a 25-14 edge in the series going into this game. This series is known for its dramatic moments throughout the years, with nine of the last 22 meetings between the two teams having gone to at least one overtime. Louisville held a 6-3 advantage in those overtime games.
Coming into this game, Notre Dame had lost 17 straight vs. AP ranked opponents and they had hoped to change that this afternoon.
To start the game, Louisville won the opening tip, but their first shot was deflected and Notre Dame got the ball back. Notre Dame, however, wasn’t able to convert on their possession either. On Louisville’s next possession, John Mooney got his first rebound and converted on his first shot, putting the Irish on the board first.
The three-point shots started sinking early for the Irish, with Rex Pflueger sinking his first three-point shot just three minutes into the first half. The two teams traded points pretty evenly, and with 14:29 remaining in the first half, the Irish were up 9-7.
The Irish had some turnover troubles early, already having 4 turnovers only six minutes into the game. (The Irish have only been averaging 10 turnovers per game, so having four already was out of character for the Irish.) With the game tied at 11, the Irish had the ball and turned it over yet again, much to the dismay of Coach Brey.
After the early three-point shot by Pflueger, the three’s began to elude the Irish. With 11:28 remaining in the first, the Irish took a timeout, down 15-11. The timeout seemed to settle the Irish a little as Dane Goodwin came in and sunk a three-point shot. With 8:50 to go in the first half, and Louisville up 18-14, Louisville went to the foul line and made both shots increasing their lead to 20-14.
Pflueger knocked the ball out of bounds off the Louisville player’s leg, but couldn’t convert the following Irish possession into points and Louisville got the ball back. After trading several possessions back and forth, Louisville’s Ryan McMahon shot a three-point shot, followed by Lamarr Kimble sinking a two-point shot, putting Louisville up 25-14. With 6:48 left in the first half, Notre Dame took another timeout to try and get everyone focused again.
McMahon sank yet another three-point shot, and a quick layup, and Louisville was ahead by 16, (30-14 Cardinals). The Irish then got energized, with Durham sinking a jumper, followed by Mooney sneaking in a layup, and move the Irish to within 12 (30-18 Cardinals). But Louisville’s Dwayne Sutton came back and quickly sank a two-point shot, followed by a Sutton steal which put two more points on the board. (34-18 Cardinals)
Heading into the half, the Louisville Cardinals were up 36-24. Here were the stats at the half. Notre Dame made 11 of 35 two-point shots (31%), 2-of-13 three-point shots (15%), and were 0-for-1 from the free throw line (0%). While Louisville made 15-of-37 two-point shots (41%), 4-for-11 from the three-point shots (36%), and were 2-for-2 from the free throw line (100%). And today was the 10th straight double-doubles for John Mooney, with still a half of a game to go.
As we started the second half, the Irish already had six turnovers, which seemed kind of uncharacteristic for the Irish. The first points of the half came on a T.J. Gibbs layup, and the Irish pulled themselves to within 10 points, followed by a three-point shot by Mooney, Irish down by seven (36-29 Cardinals). And then Goodwin sank a three with 17:54 to go in the half, and the Irish seemed to be headed in the right direction.
With 17:09 to go in the half, the Louisville Cardinals had been on a five minute scoring drought, and the Irish were within five points, 37-32 Cardinals. Then at 16:21, Rex Pflueger sank a three, and Notre Dame was within two points, 37-35 Cardinals. Louisville timeout.
On Louisville’s next possession, Louisville was persistent after missing their first shot, and Sutton snuck in a layup. Notre Dame headed to their end of the court and reciprocated with a two-point shot by Gibbs. 39-37 Cardinals, and a media timeout at 15:07.
After a Pflueger foul — which he was not happy about — Louisville’s Williams got a quick dunk, followed by a two-point jumper by Gibbs. The two teams continued to battle it out and with 12:14 remaining in the half, Gibbs sank another three, and the score was 44-42.
Jordan Nwora got the three’s falling again for the Cardinals at 11;06, and now the Cardinals were up by five points, 49-44. But as always, head coach Mike Brey was as calm as can be on the sideline, and he talked to his team on a Louisville called timeout. Post timeout, the Irish had the first possession and Rex Pflueger got a three to sink, and it was back to a two point game, 49-47 Cardinals. But on the next possession Louisville got a three-point shot of its own to sink, and it was back to a five point game, 52-47 Cardinals. Which in turn was responded to by a three-point shot by Prentiss Hubb. This Irish team was by no means ready to give up. 52-50 Cardinals, with 9:25 remaining.
At 7:45 remaining in the half, Notre Dame’s Gibbs slipped in a layup to get the Irish within one point, 53-52 Cardinals. And then Dayne Goodwin, with a wide open look, sank a three to give the Irish the lead, 55-53 Notre Dame.
This Irish team is a never give up team for sure. With 5:12 remaining in the half, the Irish were up 59-55 following a two-point shot from Mooney in the paint, and a Goodwin layup. On the next Irish possession, Pflueger missed a three-point shot, and following the Louisville rebound, Louisville added two-points to the score on a Kimble layup. 59-57 Notre Dame, with 4:05 to go in the half.
At 2:16 remaining in the half, the game was tied at 62 and Louisville’s Sutton sank a huge three-point shot, putting the Cardinals up by three. Hubb tried to answer, but missed the three, which was then rebounded by Mooney. Irish kept possession of the ball. Goodwin then tried for the three, and missed, giving the possession back to the Cardinals. Kimble gets a jumper to sink, and Louisville is up, 67-62.
Gibbs then headed to the line off of a Louisville foul, sinking both free throws, and we had a three point game, 67-64 (1:05 remaining). Notre Dame put up a huge defensive stand, preventing the Cardinals from scoring on their next possession and the Irish got the ball back, but couldn’t get any open shots off, and they lost a heartbreaker, 67-64.
Here are the final game stats: Notre Dame made 26-of-66 two-point shots (39%), 10-of-30 three-point shots (33%), and 2-of-3 from the foul line (67%). Louisville made 26-of-62 two-point shots (42%), 9-of-20 three-point shots (45%), and were 6-for-8 from the foul line (75%). Notre Dame made eight three-point shots in the second half.
Notre Dame travels to Georgia Tech to play the Yellow Jackets at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.