A pair of late three-pointers from Dwayne Sutton and a wild final possession that saw Notre Dame come up empty allowed Louisville to escape with a 67-64 win Saturday afternoon in South Bend. The game finding a way to avoid overtime might be the biggest upset of the entire 2019-20 college basketball season.
In a story that has become all too familiar to Louisville fans, the Cardinals built a sizable first half advantage, watched it slip away, and then found themselves in a toss-up situation in the game’s final minutes. The main difference between this game and so many others we’ve seen over the last year and a half is that U of L found a way to win.
The man primarily responsible was Sutton, who despite entering the game’s final stretch just 2-for-9 from the floor, buried a pair of three-pointers that helped Louisville turn a 59-57 deficit into a 65-62 advantage. He also finished with 14 rebounds, nine more than any other Cardinal.
Jordan Nwora, who also made a key basket in the game’s waning moments to tie the score at 62, finished with a game-high 20 points. Ryan McMahon came off the bench to add 17. Fresh Kimble also came up large down the stretch, scoring a big bucket and making sure a red-hot TJ Gibbs couldn’t get a clear look at the basket.
Louisville found a way to win on an afternoon where its big men really struggled to finish around the rim. Steven Enoch and Malik Williams combined to go just 4-for-16 from the field, while Notre Dame big man John Mooney produced 15 points and 19 rebounds.
I know people are going to be upset about the second half performance, and there’s certainly some negative stuff to dissect, but I still feel much, much happier after this win than I did after Tuesday night’s over Miami. The effort level didn’t taper off the way it did against the Hurricanes, and this team found a way to win in a situation where we’ve seen it come up short far too often. Notre Dame played a terrific second half, had all the momentum entering the game’s final segment, and Louisville still won inside a building where it had lost seven of its last eight.
It wasn’t anything resembling perfect, but to me, it was a step in the direction this team needs to be heading.