LOUISVILLE 101, NOTRE DAME 104
February 9, 2013
South Bend, Joyce Center
Here's all you need to know about Louisville's latest loss: The Cards blew another Big East game to fall to 7-4 in the league. Louisville led 56-48 with :50 seconds remaining in the game, but Notre Dame's Jerian Grant scored 12 points in the final minute to force overtime as Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng missed three important foul shots down the stretch.
Though Louisville had several opportunities to win in the first four overtimes, Notre Dame out-toughed, and out-lasted the Cardinals for a 104-101 5OT win. It was the longest game in Big East regular-season history.
Chane Behanan led UofL with 30 points and 14 rebounds. Luke Hancock added 22 points off the bench, hitting four 3s. Russ Smith scored 21 points, while Gorgui Dieng posted 17 points, 13 rebounds and one blocked shot. Six Irish players scored in double figures led by Jerian Grant, who finished with 19 points. Gerrick Sherman scored all 17 points in overtime and didn't even play during regulation.
"It was a typical Notre Dame-Louisville game. They made some just incredible shots. I can't fault our defense. We were on them. Their shots were incredible so we've got to give them a lot of credit because I've never seen shots like that and I've been coaching a long time. We made a few mental mistakes down the stretch by forcing the issue when we had the lead, but sometimes when you're a bad foul shooting team at times it's not the worse thing in the world to get two points. I'm proud of our guys. It was a five-overtime game. Hopefully we'll learn from it." - Rick Pitino
"Everybody played and everybody contributed. I think our toughness……we got to 100 because we played an extra game. We had fun. It still only counts as one Big East win but it's a good one." - - Mike Brey
Chane Behanan played great and did everything possible to help Louisville win. The Cards forward scored a career-high 30, led UofL with 14 rebounds and also blocked two shots. Behanan made 13-20 shots from the floor and was tough to defend around the basket. He did miss 5 of 9 free throws, though.
Louisville led Notre Dame 56-48 with :50 seconds left in the game. Then Jerian Grant scored 12 points, including making a trio of 3s to force overtime. Trailing 102-100 late in the fifth overtime, Montrezl Harrell missed two free throws. Eric Atkins made a free throw to give Notre Dame a three point lead with :19 seconds remaining, Russ Smith missed the second of two free throws, then Pat Connaughton made one free throw as Notre Dame earned a 104-101 win.
SIVA, BLACKSHEAR NON-FACTORS
Peyton Siva made only 1 of 6 shots and scored just two points before fouling out in the first overtime. Wayne Blackshear, coming off one of his best offensive outings against Rutgers, didn't score in 19 minutes against the Irish. Blackshear committed four fouls at Rutgers, and again picked up four fouls against the Irish. He missed all three of his shots from the floor and didn't produce much else while on the court, finishing with just 2 rebounds and 2 assists.
With Peyton Siva out with fouls, Rick Pitino turned to Russ Smith. Smith, though, made some decisions that probably cost Louisville the game. The most glaring was his decision to drive to the basket and hoist a challenged shot with the lead in the waning seconds instead of pulling it out and forcing Notre Dame to foul. Even worse than the decision to attack the basket was that Smith forced an unneeded attempt with Chane Behanan and Kevin Ware filling lanes against a lone defender.
18 -- Louisville missed 18 free throws, including three in the final minute of regulation. Forget Jerian Grant's 12 points in the final minute to force overtime. If Louisville had hit free throws down the stretch they would have won in regulation and there wouldn't have been any need to play five overtimes on the road. Basketball isn't a complicated game. If you can't make free throws late in a close game, especially on the road in the Big East, you're probably going to lose more than you win in this conference. Once again on the road, UofL missed too many foul shots and dropped their third Big East road game this season.
Louisville should have defeated Notre Dame. Here's the troubling reality for the Cardinals -- they didn't finish off another opponent when they had the opportunity. Forget all the ridiculous overtimes. It should have never gotten to a first extra session. Louisville had the Irish beat but couldn't get key stops with an 8 point lead in the final minute of regulation. The Cards again missed too many key free throws, made too many mistakes at crucial times, and couldn't finish down the stretch. This season will be judged by post-season performance and Rick Pitino's team has the potential to win the Big East and NCAA, but it won't if it doesn't learn how to win and finish opponents when they have them on the ropes. ESPN may like the fact this game went into five overtimes, but Rick Pitino - and Louisville fans - have to be seriously concerned this team can't seem to finish when it counts.
Louisville hosts St. John's Thursday at 9:00 p.m.