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Notre Dame Basketball

Starling’s 22 Points Spark Double-Digit Irish Victory over Louisville

January 28, 2023
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Freshman guard JJ Starling scored 22 points on 56.3% shooting, and Notre Dame handled Louisville on Saturday afternoon, 76-62.

The Irish (10-12, 2-9 ACC) snap a four-game losing streak. They’ve now won three straight over the last-place Cardinals (2-19, 0-10). 

A 2022 McDonalds All-American, Starling has played up and down this season, but he’s now scored at least 18 points in back-to-back games. 

“He’s really sharp, he's pure and he wants to be coached,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “I thought to myself about a month ago, there is a process here with him. Maybe the light bulb is going on a little bit for him on a lot of ends, and he's just kind of playing.”

In particular, Starling has struggled from deep this season, hitting 31.1% of 3-point attempts, but the first-year standout went 2-4 from beyond the arc, which opened up driving lanes for him.

“I've been in the gym working on my shot because I know I'm capable of that,” Starling said.” I'm battling a little shoulder injury and getting that right. So I'm just making sure my shoulder is loose, and I'm good to go.”

Forward Nate Laszewski chipped in 17 points while hitting 3 of his 4 shots from deep.

Cormac Ryan scored 11 points, all of which came in the second half. He also dished out a career-high eight assists with one turnover.

“I got some tricks up my sleeve,” Ryan said. “I can throw it around a little bit.  In order to get an assist, guys [need to] make shots. We've got talented guys, and we were knocking down shots tonight. I'm happy to do my part.”

Dane Goodwin shot the ball poorly on Saturday afternoon, hitting just 5 of his 16 field goal attempts, but the fifth-year guard still managed a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. 

Notre Dame’s 14-point win on Saturday marked the program’s largest margin of victory since defeating Jacksonville 59-43 on Dec. 27.

“I wouldn't say we're surprised,” Ryan said. I think we never lost faith in this group. We all know what we're capable of, and Louisville is a good team. They've played a lot of teams tough. Being able to go out and execute, it's a good feeling. But we looked at the scoreboard and it wasn't like we're happy to be here. This is where we should be, and this is where we know we can be.”

TURNING POINT

Louisville started the game hot, hitting 4 of 5 field goal attempts in the first four minutes of play to take an early 9-7 lead. 

The Irish responded with a 19-4 run on 7-8 shooting, which included four made 3-pointers, and Notre Dame blew the game open. Early in the second half, the Irish secured a 29-point advantage.

“I was doing a double take a couple of times, quite frankly,” Brey said. “We haven't had that kind of margin in a while.”

Their early domination enabled the Irish to weather a 6:42 second-half scoring drought while never relinquishing a double-digit lead. 

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Part of Notre Dame’s first-half run included 13 unanswered points, with the Irish holding the Cardinals scoreless for a 3-minute stretch. 

This second-half dunk from Laszewski wasn’t bad either.

STATS OF THE AFTERNOON

The Irish took care of the ball on Saturday afternoon. Notre Dame avoided a first-half turnover. The team’s first turnover didn’t occur until Trey Wertz coughed up possession to the Cardinals with 13:18 to go in the second half. 

Notre Dame finished with three turnovers while dishing out 16 team assists. 

“That's Notre Dame [basketball] right there,” Ryan said. “We got a win in our fashion and so it was a good feeling.”

BIG PICTURE

The Irish scored a much-needed ACC win with nine league games left to play. Can a 14-point victory over the Cardinals spark the Irish to go on a February run in the ACC?

“We'll rest, rest for two days, and then we will get back into stuff Tuesday,” Brey said. “You know what? You always practice better after a win. You've got a little guy little spring in your step. I'll give this group credit though. They've come in and worked even though they've been punched.”

HE SAID IT

To kick off a Coaches vs. Cancer campaign, Brey donned a suit on Saturday, which could become his usual bench attire going forward.

Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey in a suit and sneakers for Saturday's 76-62 victory over Louisville.

“I'm 1-0, brother, in a suit,” Brey said. “I'll tell you one thing about that suit, I'm dry cleaning this sucker and it's coming out Saturday. You can guarantee it. I'm going to ride the suit.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

The Irish are off this week before hosting Wake Forest (14-7, 6-4 ACC) next Saturday at 1 p.m. EST. The Demon Deacons are off to a strong start to league play with wins over No. 14 Duke and No. 19 Clemson. 

Down on watching the Irish? Red Panda will perform at halftime vs. Wake Forest. 

She’s always worth the price of admission.

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