Postgame Recap: Cards Blow Early Lead, Narrowly Avoid Upset at Notre Dame

The Louisville Cardinals led by double digits at the half, but had to come back in the final minutes en route to a close 67-64 win at Notre Dame on Saturday. Louisville improved to 13-3 on the year and 4-1 in ACC conference play. Notre Dame fell to 10-6 and 1-4.

Jordan Nwora led all scorers with 20 points on 7-15 shooting with 4 rebounds and 1 assists. Ryan McMahon had 17 points on 6-10 from the field. Dwayne Sutton notched a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. As a team, Louisville shot 42 percent from the field including 9-20 from long range. The Cards’ bench outscored Notre Dame’s 28-16.

For the Irish, it was John Mooney who led the way with 15 points and 19 rebounds. TJ Gibbs had 15 points and 2 assists in 39 minutes. Dane Goodwin added 14 points and 5 rebounds on 4-8 from three point range.

After trailing early on, Louisville went on a 13-2 run to make it 18-11 midway through the first half. The Cards led by as many as 16 in the first half. Louisville led 36-24 at half. Ryan McMahon and Jordan Nwora each led all scorers with 12 points before halftime.

After the break it was all Notre Dame from the start. The Irish used a 11-1 run to cut the lead to 37-35 before the first media timeout. From there it was a back and forth affair with neither team managing to extend a lead. After going 2-13 from three in the first half, Notre Dame went 8-17 from deep in the final 20 minutes, but started out the half 7-11 as it got back into the game.  With back-to-back three pointers from Sutton, Louisville took a 65-62 lead with under two minutes left and did not trail from there. Notre Dame had multiple looks on the final possession but were unable to connect on a game-tying three.

This was another troubling performance by this Louisville team. The Cards led by 16 in the first half and quickly let Notre Dame back into the game after the break. Notre Dame went wild from three, but it was Louisville’s lack of offense that made that possible. The Cards went on multiple long droughts and again looked unimpressive on the offensive end. This team is still trying to identify its full time point guard. You don’t want to have that problem in the second week of January. That being said, David Johnson showed flashes today and Fresh Kimble was reliable in the final few minutes.

The team did not really struggle to get the ball inside, but they were unable to convert down there. Jordan Nwora was anonymous again for a huge stretch in the middle of the game. Ultimately, they woke up in time for a close win on the road, and it was the first road win since opening the season at Miami.

This can be a frustrating team to watch, but the conference season is a long one. These are the type of games you need to win if you want to compete for an ACC championship. Despite some unimpressive performances, Louisville is still 4-1 in conference play. Winning on the road in the ACC is difficult regardless of the opponent. They got out with a win and can move on. However, tougher tests await this team.

Up Next:

Louisville is back on the road for a Tuesday nigh matchup with Pittsburgh at 7:00 p.m. ET on ACC Network.

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