No. 1 Notre Dame 82, No. 2 Louisville 68: Irish redeem themselves in the latest chapter of the rivalry

By: Jon Opiela

Twitter: @jonopiela24

NOTRE DAME, IN– A battle between the top two teams in the country proved to live up to any and all expectations. No. 1 Notre Dame (15-1, 3-0 ACC) played host to No. 2 Louisville (14-1, 2-1 ACC) and came down to the final minutes before the Irish pulled away for an 82-68 victory in front of a sold out crowd at the Purcell Pavilion.

Even though the rivalry has started to develop in the last few seasons, Louisville coach Jeff Walz knows more big games are on the horizon.

“It’s a big game, but the biggest games come in March when you lose and you’re finished,” Walz said. “That’s the biggest game of the year. No matter what took place tonight, we’re playing on Sunday.”

At the half, Louisville held a 35-33 lead over the top-ranked Notre Dame. Louisville’s Asia Durr led all players with 19 points at the break. Jackie Young was the only other player scoring in double-figures as she contributed 10 points for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame played an uncharacteristically bad first half of basketball against Louisville. The Irish turned the ball over 11 times in the half, leading to 15 points off of turnovers for the Cardinals. The Irish also shot just 30 percent (8-of-27) from the field and went 0-of-5 from beyond the arc. Louisville did not shoot it well either— connecting on 38 percent of its shots and 2-of-11 from long range.

The Irish managed to hang around in the first half by getting to the free throw line 23 times, converting on 17 of those attempts. Notre Dame outrebounded Louisville by 12 throughout the half as it stayed within reasonable distance. Jessica Shepard pulled down 10 rebounds in the first half alone for the Irish.

“They were getting a lot of fouls and we were trying to attack them,” said Notre Dame guard Arike Ogunbowale. “You know, they’re great players and when they get into foul trouble, we definitely have to attack.”

In the third quarter, it was all Irish, all the time. Notre Dame outscored Louisville, 24-12 and shot 56 percent from the field. Ogunbowale connected at the buzzer from way downtown to extend Notre Dame’s lead to 10 heading into the fourth quarter.

As Notre Dame fans have come to expect, Ogunbowale led Notre Dame down the stretch and hit several big shots. The biggest of which was a three pointer that came with 40 seconds left and extended Notre Dame’s lead to seven, which put the icing on the cake. Ogunbowale had 19 points in the fourth quarter to pace Notre Dame.

Ogunbowale finished the contest with 30 points to lead all scorers. Brianna Turner finished with 16 points and Young finished with 14 for Notre Dame. Shepard led all rebounders with 15 rebounds.

For Louisville, Durr paced the offense with 29 points while Bionca Dunham contributed 10.

When asked about the best part of yet another matchup between No. 1 and No. 2, Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw joked that it was “not playing Connecticut.” “It’s great for the ACC to see we have such a strong conference,” McGraw added. “So, I think it was great nationally because kids turn on the TV and see one versus two and it’s Louisville-Notre Dame.”

What’s Next:

Notre Dame will stick around the Purcell Pavilion to take on Wake Forest on Jan. 13 at 1 p.m. ET. Louisville will return to the KFC Yum! Center to take on Georgia Tech and Virginia in two ACC contests next week.