No. 13 Louisville squanders 16-point lead before recovering to edge Notre Dame

Jordan Nwora led three players in double figures with 20 points as the Cardinals withstood a furious Irish comeback in the second half for a 67-64 victory Saturday.

SHARE No. 13 Louisville squanders 16-point lead before recovering to edge Notre Dame
Prentiss Hubb

Notre Dame’s Prentiss Hubb, center, loses control of the ball as Louisville’s Ryan McMahon (30), Malik Williams and David Johnson, right, defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in South Bend, Ind.

Robert Franklin/AP

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Louisville’s Dwayne Sutton came up big when the No. 13 Cardinals needed him the most on the road against Notre Dame.

“My teammates did a nice job finding me. It wasn’t my night offensively,” said the 6-foot-5 Sutton, who hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final 4:05 to finish with 10 points and 14 rebounds as the Cardinals closed with a 10-5 run to hold off an Irish upset bid in a 67-64 Atlantic Coast Conference victory on Saturday.

ACC leading scorer Jordan Nwora had a game-high 20 points and reserve guard Ryan McMahon added 17 for the Cardinals (13-3, 4-1 ACC) to begin a three-game road trip.

“This team needed to figure a way to cut through some adversity,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said after the Cardinals won their second straight game after losing two straight to ranked teams, 78-70 to in-state rival Kentucky in overtime on Dec. 28 and 78-65 against Florida State a week ago. “I loved the way we finished the game. A couple of our guys played like experienced players in a tough moment, Dwayne Sutton in particular.”

John Mooney, who notched his 10th straight double-double and 13th of the season with 15 points and 19 rebounds for the Fighting Irish (10-6, 1-4), credited Sutton after Notre Dame stumbled at the end for its second straight loss.

“When Sutton hits two bombs at the end, it’s tough — you tip your hat,” Mooney said. “They just made more plays down the stretch.”

T.J. Gibbs matched Mooney’s 15 points, scoring 13 after intermission, and reserve Dane Goodwin had 14, 11 in the second half, as the Irish managed to erase a 36-24 deficit but failed to finish again.

“I feel for us the way we battled back,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “Give them credit – they’re really good and Sutton drilled two really big ones.”

Trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half, Notre Dame opened the second with an 11-1 run. Mooney’s 3-pointer brought the Irish within 36-29 early in the half and then Goodwin hit a pair of 3-pointers to cut the Louisville lead to 37-35.

McMahon re-entered the game, and he and Nwora hit 3-pointers to give Louisville an edge, but the Irish kept coming and Goodwin’s third 3-pointer gave them a 55-53 lead with 7:04 left.

A Goodwin follow of a Prentiss Hubb miss made it 59-55 Irish with 5:25 left as Louisville missed six of seven shots. But after a timeout with 4:05 left, a 10-5 Louisville run, fueled by two 3-pointers by Sutton, sealed the victory.

From an 11-11 tie with 13:09 left in the first half, the Cardinals pulled away to a 12-point halftime lead built on 41% shooting (15 of 37) and a strong defensive performance that limited the Irish to just 31% shooting (11 of 35). Notre Dame endured a pair of scoring droughts of 4:05 and 4:39.

McMahon, who started the first 13 games of the season, entered the game at 14:29 and broke the tie with a baseline drive and underhand scoop reverse lay-in. He then added an uncontested drive the next time down the floor for a 15-11 Louisville lead, forcing Brey to call a timeout.

McMahon, who had 12 points to match Nwora in the opening period, added a pair of 3-pointers and another scoop layup with 5:29 to play in the half to put the Cardinals up 30-14, their biggest lead.

It might have been worse for the Irish if not for Mooney, who had 10 rebounds in the first 11 minutes on his way to 13 in the first half. His dunk off an inbound pass from Hubb with 38 seconds remaining gave him a first-half double-double.


Louisville: The Cardinals had a 28-16 edge in bench points in the game, including 18-3 in the first half thanks to McMahon’s 5-of-9 shooting and 12 points. McMahon, a 6-foot redshirt senior guard, called Notre Dame a dream school after growing up in Sarasota, Florida and attending Cardinal Mooney High School.

“My dad’s family is all from here,” said McMahon, whose 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting in 27 minutes were a season high. “In the summer, we’d go to the (Notre Dame campus) and try to sneak into the stadium. I do love playing here.”

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish continued their shooting struggles. Guards Hubb, Gibbs and Rex Pflueger were a combined 3 of 13 (23%) in the first half as Louisville seemed content to allow Mooney to get his points and rebounds.

“We’re a very poised group to be able to claw and fight back,” Mooney said of Notre Dame’s second-half rally that saw the Irish hit 15 of 31 shots (48%). “We’ve got to stop putting ourselves in that position in the first half.”

“We’ve just got to finish these games,” Goodwin added. “It’s a play here or there. We have to make those plays to win.”

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