Notre Dame 104, Louisville 101 (5 OT)

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Eric Atkins scored what proved to be the winning basket with 1:15 left in the fifth overtime as Notre Dame outlasted Louisville 104-101 in a Big East thriller that ended early Sunday morning.
Atkins closed with 13 points for the Irish (19-5, 7-4), who had six players score in double figures before 9,149 fans at Purcell Pavilion.
Atkins' go-ahead bucket gave Notre Dame a 102-100 lead and the Irish were finally able to put away a game that lasted near 3 1/2 hours and ended at 12:35 a.m. ET to go in the record book as the longest Big East game in history.
Chane Behanan collected a game-high 30 points and 15 rebounds for Louisville (19-5, 7-4). Luke Hancock scored 22 points, Russ Smith had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Gorgui Dieng added 17 points and 13 boards.
Joining Atkins in double figures was Jerian Grant with 19 points. Garrick Sherman had 17 off the bench after starter Jack Cooley fouled out. Pat Connaughton added 16 points, Cameron Biedscheid had 14 and Cooley finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Sunday dawned as the fourth overtime began and Notre Dame trailed late before Sherman's tip-in with five seconds left tied the score at 93.
In the third overtime, Behanan hit the second of two free throws with 16.2 seconds left for an 83-83 tie, but Smith's bid to beat the buzzer with a jumper failed.
Grant scored nine points in the final 45 seconds of regulation as Notre Dame rallied from a late seven-point deficit to force the first extra session. The Irish guard hit two 3-pointers, had a driving layup and a tying free throw with seconds to play.
The first overtime ended deadlocked at 68 deadlock after Smith's try for a winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer hit the backboard.
Notre Dame forced a third overtime when Biedscheid hit a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left for a 75-75 deadlock.
Notre Dame led 27-24 at halftime, but Louisville overtook the cold-shooting Irish early in the second half and twice opened six-points leads. The second came on a Hancock drive and bucket for a 37-31 advantage with 13:10 left.
The Irish then rattled off six straight points -- including two Biedscheid jumpers -- to tie at 37. But Notre couldn't push ahead of Louisville, which went on a 10-3 surge for a 47-40 lead with 7:04 left in regulation.
Neither team managed a field goal for next six-plus minutes until Smith drove for a bank shot with 1:24 to play and a 52-45 lead.
Louisville appeared in control with a 58-51 lead with 42 seconds left after two Dieng free throws, but Grant's nine points in the final 36 seconds of regulation dramatically shifted Notre Dame's fortunes.
The first half saw 12 lead changes and two ties. The Irish built the edge thanks to a Connaughton baseline 3-pointer, a Cooley layup and two Atkins free throws in final two minutes.
Both teams struggled offensively in the opening minutes with a collective 15 shots and just six points between them. Notre Dame went 1 of 8 (12.5 percent) in that span.
Nine minutes elapsed before a team hit double digits as Cooley's short jumper gave Notre Dame an 11-8 lead. But poor shooting continued with neither team above 30 percent from the field.
Hancock had no such troubles. He hit three 3-pointers in nine minutes and closed the half with a game-high nine points.
Shooting percentages recovered somewhat late in the half. The Irish went 10 of 23 from the field (43.5 percent) and Louisville was 10 of 26 (38.5 percent).
NOTES: Saturday's Cardinals-Irish clash had added hoopla as ESPN's College GameDay landed in South Bend for only the second time in Irish basketball history. Among the analysts was former Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps. ... Football also hosted GameDay on Oct. 13 before Notre Dame played Stanford ... Smith and Cooley were among five Big East Honor Roll mentions this week. Smith averaged 19 points and five rebounds in two wins. Cooley averaged 21.5 points and 16 rebounds and collected his 13th and 14th double-doubles in two victories. ... Biedscheid also nabbed conference honors as Rookie of the Week with 12.5 points and 6-of-11 3-point shooting. ... Louisville has been ranked among the nation's top 25 for 14 straight weeks, including a brief reign as No. 1 the week of Jan. 14. The Irish have been ranked 11 of 14 weeks. ... Irish guard Scott Martin remains out with a left knee injury. He now has missed six straight games. ... The teams meet again to close the Big East season on March 9 in Louisville. ... Notre Dame remains home this week, facing DePaul on Wednesday. Louisville entertains St. John's on Thursday.

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