Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame Knocks Off Louisville 77-70

January 4, 2017

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame (13-2, 2-0) got off to a good start in ACC play with a win at Pittsburgh on Saturday, but with a win 77-70 over No. 9 Louisville (12-3, 0-2) on Wednesday night, it’s safe to say the Irish are off to a great start.

"To get to 2-0 in this league feels like you’re 6-0 with what’s going on in this league," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said after the win. "We’re blessed to be 2-0 and we darn sure earned it with toughness."

Steve Vasturia was the star of the show, as the senior scored 24 points and pulled down six rebounds on the night. However, it was a running floater Vasturia hit with 19 seconds left to put Notre Dame up 73-68 that ended the Cardinals hopes for a comeback win.

Notre Dame hadn’t scored a field in over 5:30 of game time before Vasturia hit the big shot.

"Part of the game plan was to drive it," Brey stated. "We were trying to get him into different areas where he could drive the ball. He’s so good at sensing when he has a bigger guy on him and the hand-check now is a quick call. That’s high basketball IQ on his part.

"He finished great at Pittsburgh and that probably jump started him a little bit. I’m thrilled with what our guards give us."

The Irish hit 15 free throws over the final 10:14 of the contest, which turned out to be huge, as Notre Dame hit just three field goals during the same timeframe.

"I told them if we got to bonus and drive it," said Brey. ""We got to the line 25 times and we hadn’t got there as much in the Villanova, Purdue and the Pittsburgh game. It’s a weapon, but you have to get there.

"We should be trying to get 18 or 20 from the foul line each night. That should be a goal for us."

It’s his show. It’s his team. - Mike Brey on Matt Farrell
Donovan Mitchell led the Cardinals with 20 points, but only four of those came in the  second half. Bonzie Colson registered another double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds.

Matt Farrell once again came up big for the Irish, as the junior point guard dropped 22 points and was 8 for 9 from the free throw line.

"He’s really feeling it," Brey said. "It’s his show. It’s his team. The group really responds to him."

Leading by five at the half, Notre Dame came out of the locker room blazing in the second half with VJ Beachem hitting a jumper, Vasturia adding two buckets and Farrell knocked home a three to take a 51-42 lead with 15:31 left in the game.

Beachem had yet another off night, as the senior forward scored just two points on 1 of 3 from the field, which included no shots taken in the first half.

The Cardinals answered the Irish with a 7-0 run, as Ray Spaulding tipped in missed shot to pull within 53-51. Notre Dame would then continue its shooting woes going 2 of 9 midway through the half, but would still hold a three-point lead with 7:27 to play.

Vasturia got off to a hot start to open the game with five quick points in the games first three minutes. Farrell hit an unreal three-pointer at the end of the shot clock and Notre Dame was off and running with a 11-6 lead.

Austin Torres provided the Irish with a big spark off the bench midway through the first half. Torres entered the game and immediately got a steal, ran the court and finished it off with a second-chance layup. The layup capped a quick 6-0 run to give the Irish a 17-7 lead.

"That’s really hard to do," Brey said of Torres' energy. "He knows he is going to get a small part, but he knows who he is. He embraces it and his stuff tonight was such a key. He’s energy, scoring and flying around. He knows it’s going to be a short burst, but man, he’s a key for us."

Louisville chipped away and took the lead with 6:28 left in the first half with a VJ King jumper to make it 28-27.

Vasturia knocked in his second three-pointer of the half after a layup to give Notre Dame a 34-28 lead, but then Mitchell answered with seven points to end the half.

Mitchell led the Cardinals with 16 first half points, while Farrell had 13 points and Vasturia had 12 points for the Irish in the first 20 minutes.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Steve Vasturia - 24 points, six rebounds and one assist.
Vasturia came up clutch in the final moments for the second game in a row, as he hit a runner with 19 seconds to essentially put the game away. The senior also went a perfect 4 for 4 from the free throw line and hit two three-pointers.

STAT LINE OF THE GAME: Notre Dame won the rebounding battle 38-35 over Louisville. The Cardinals came into the game winning the battle on the boards by an average of 6.4. The undersized Irish battled hard from the tip and somehow won the rebounding battle outright.

Colson led the way with 14 boards.

TURNING POINT: Notre Dame's ability to hit foul shots down the stretch was the turning point. Notre Dame went over five minutes without a field goal, but still were able to knock off the No. 9 team in the country. The Irish went 22 of 25 for the game, but in the final 10 minutes, the Irish hit 15 shots from the foul line.

Notre Dame will host Clemson on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
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