LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Demetrius Jackson scored 21 points and No. 12 Notre Dame made its final seven shots to pull away for a 71-59 victory over No. 16 Louisville on Wednesday night that clinched third place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Jackson’s 3-pointer with 7:52 left gave the Irish a 53-48 lead. He then added consecutive jumpers to twice provide nine-point cushions that sealed the victory for the Fighting Irish (25-5, 13-4 ACC).
He also had plenty of help from other teammates such as Bonzie Colson, who made a big jumper down the stretch en route to 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting.
Jerian Grant added 12 points and Steve Vasturia 10 as Notre Dame finished 54 percent from the field and made 20 of 25 from the free-throw line.
Montrezl Harrell had 23 points for the Cardinals (23-7, 11-6), but missed several free throws as they tried to rally. Louisville finished 11 of 18 from the line.
The Irish also made the Cardinals force shots and finished 42 percent from the field after they opened the second half with an 11-0 run that tied the game. Louisville had its three-game winning streak snapped.
Notre Dame showed few signs of rust from an eight-day layoff and delayed arrival in Louisville because of plane issues. Then again, stopping its balanced offense led by Grant (16.9 points per game) and five starters averaging at least nine points per game proved to be difficult for Louisville.
Wayne Blackshear and Terry Rozier each had 11 for the Cardinals, who just didn’t have enough offense to keep up with an Irish squad whose 50.8 shooting rate ranked second nationally.
The fast-paced game resembled their old days as Big East rivals.
Louisville scored the game’s first six points before Notre Dame scored the next 10 to take the lead with a fast tempo and multiple passes to find the open man. Good things often followed as the Irish started 11 of 15 from the field, including four 3-pointers.
Notre Dame cooled off to finish the half 58 percent from the field, good enough to lead 42-31 at halftime and punctuated by Grant’s fadeaway jumper at the buzzer.
Louisville shot respectably (48 percent) and outrebounded the Irish 14-10, but had plenty of room for improvement on defense. The Cardinals regrouped with an 11-0 run over 3:23 to tie the game thanks to tighter pressure on the Irish.
Notre Dame shook it off to eventually go ahead and stay there thanks to Jackson and others’ clutch shooting.
Notre Dame didn’t arrive in Louisville until 1 a.m. Wednesday because its original plane had mechanical issues. A replacement plane was flown up from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to make the 30-minute trip south.
Notre Dame: The Irish finished with their best conference road record ever (7-2).
Louisville: The 42 first-half points allowed were a season high for the Cardinals.
Louisville hosts No. 2 Virginia on Saturday.
Notre Dame hosts Clemson on Saturday.
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