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Notre Dame Men’s Basketball: Irish Stave Off Comeback, Defeat Louisville 76 to 62

ND led by as much as 30 early in the second half, and that cushion helped them survive a scoring drought and pick up ACC win #2 of the season

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

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team finally won another ACC game on Saturday afternoon, beating the last-place Louisville Cardinals at Purcell Pavilion by a final score of 76 to 62.

The Irish were led on the day by J.J. Starling, who scored 22 points and had 6 rebounds while shooting 9-for-16 from the field. Nate Laszewski had a really nice game as well, scoring 17 points and grabbing 5 rebounds. Dane Goodwin chipped in a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds), Cormac Ryan added 11 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds, and Marcus Hammond scored 8.

As a team, Notre Dame shot 45% from the field and 36% from long range, and won the turnover battle convincingly, 3 to 12. They were out-rebounded by the Cardinals 34-31, but that did not have much of an impact considering the turnover disparity between the two teams.

The Cardinals were paced in scoring by Mike James (14 points, 4 rebounds) and Jae’Lyn Withers (10 points, 4 rebounds). El Ellis (8 points, 6 assists), Emmanuel Okorafor (8 points, 5 rebounds) and Kamari Lands (8 points) contributed to the effort as well, and Louisville shot 46% from the floor and 35% from three-point range.

Both teams got off to a solid start in this one, with the Cardinals leading 9-7 after almost 4 minutes of play. However, soon after that moment it became apparent that, despite the Irish’s struggles this season, Louisville is on an entirely different and lower level in terms of their abilities. The Irish went on a 19-4 run over the next ~5 minutes, with a number of Irish players like Trey Wertz, Hammond, Laszewski, and Starling pitching in.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 28 Louisville at Notre Dame Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

From there, the Irish really controlled the rest of the period, with Starling and Goodwin turning it up a notch and scoring basically at-will on the hapless Cardinals defense. Starling put on a show with a personal 7-0 run to finish the half, punctuated by a steal and a dunk in transition just before the buzzer sounded for halftime.

The Irish didn’t commit a single turnover in the first half, while the Cardinals had 8 and managed to shoot just 33% from the field and 18% from three-point range in the period.

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

After the break, it was really more of the same for Notre Dame. Starling picked up where he left off with a couple baskets, both Laszewski and Ryan converted on three-point plays the old fashioned way, and the Irish extended their lead to 30 points (more than doubling up Louisville) roughly 3 minutes into the second half.

The Cardinals pushed back a little bit to chip away at that massive deficit, getting the score to 64-44 at the under-12 media timeout and continuing to chip away after that, using a nearly 7-minute scoring drought from the Irish and a 14-0 run of their own to make it 64-50 with about 8 minutes to play.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 28 Louisville at Notre Dame Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A couple Starling free throws and a Laszewski three provided a little change in momentum, though, and the Cardinals never pulled within fewer than 14 points the rest of the way. The Irish closed it out as a 76 to 62 victory.

With the win, the Irish improved to 10-12 on the season (2-9 ACC) and picked up their first victory since January 10th. They will play next a week from today on Saturday, 2/4 at 1 PM ET, when they will host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons for the game and Red Panda for the halftime entertainment.