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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame falls in double OT to Louisville

After Notre Dame’s loss to North Carolina on Sunday, Mike Brey announced Matt Farrell would be back in the starting lineup come Tuesday’s game against Louisville.

Brey said the team needed Farrell back to energize the offense.

Farrell did start and his 23 points and eight assists certainly energized the Irish.

Zachary Yim | The Observer
Senior guard Matt Farrell dishes a pass versus Louisville on Tuesday night.

But for the second game in a row, the Irish (13-6, 3-3 ACC) were unable to gut out a win, falling 82-78 in double overtime to Louisville (14-4, 4-1 ACC) without freshman wing D.J. Harvey and junior guard Rex Pflueger for most of the game.

“We’ve been punched hard before,” Brey said after the game.“Those were two amazing gut punches. We were thoroughly exhausted.”

Neck-and-neck through 40 minutes of regular time and eight minutes of overtimes, the Irish found themselves down 80-78 with under a minute left. After Farrell missed potential game-winning shots at the end of regulation and the first overtime, the Irish tried to run a pick-and-roll for sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs.

Gibbs’ drive was well defended, however, and Louisville came up with the rebound. Senior Cardinals guard Quentin Snyder sunk his free throws and Louisville came out on top 82-78.

“They’re a good defensive team, they’re big, they’re long” Farrell said. “We put ourselves in a position to win, just like last game. We could very well be 5-1 right now, but we’re 3-3. … I had a chance twice to win the game. I’m going to keep replaying that in my head all night, it is what it is. These guys fight so hard, we’re going through so much right now, it can only make us stronger.”

One player who fought all game was senior forward Martinas Geben. Geben recorded 23 points and 17 rebounds, including 11 offensive rebounds. Both numbers were career highs.

With Farrell showing signs of fatigue, Brey turned to the big man late in regulation and overtime to try and get the Irish some offense.

“[Geben’s] playing so well, I’m just so proud of him. He deserves it, he’s so confident right now,” Brey said. “As I’m trying to figure out how to help this group, I think we have to throw it into him more and go to work.”

The Irish lost Harvey at the 8:25 mark in the first half. Harvey injured his left knee fighting for a rebound. Harvey went to the ground screaming in pain and was helped to the locker room. The DeMatha High School product returned to the bench in the second half with crutches and a brace on his left knee.

“We’re hoping it’s just cartilage,” Brey said. “MRI tomorrow. I’m hoping it’s just a cartilage thing … hopefully it’s not an ACL.”

With 6:25 left in the second half, Pflueger picked up his fifth foul and exited the game with three points and three rebounds.

“That was too bad, he’s usually pretty good about fouls. That was a big loss,” Brey said of Pflueger. “We just can’t afford to have a main guy get in foul trouble quite frankly.”

Now sitting at 3-3 in the ACC, Brey said he had an honest talk with his team about the odds of making the NCAA tournament, and what the group needs to do to get there.

“I said, ‘Fellas, last year we lost five out of six in the ACC and we found our footing … and scratched and clawed to the end,’” Brey said. “Now I’m not sure we can scratch and claw our way to 12 league wins and a double bye. Quite frankly, I don’t know if that’s very realistic. But can we scratch out five or six more and go to Brooklyn and see what happens? And maybe Colson’s back? That’s the world we’re in. That’s how we’re going to manage it.”

Farrell wasted little time making an impact on the game. With the Irish trailing 7-3, Farrell drove for a layup, threaded an assist to Geben for a dunk and then stole a pass for a layup of his own to tie the game up at 9-9.

Farrell continued his burst of scoring, dropping 15 points in the game’s first 13 minutes on 6-of-9 shooting to make it a 26-16 Notre Dame lead.

The Cardinals battled back, as the Irish scored just two points in the final seven minutes of the half to give Louisville a 30-28 lead going into the locker room on the back of a 14-2 run.

The Irish look flustered coming out of the break, turning the ball over three times in the half’s first two minutes and forcing Brey to call for a timeout.

The respite seemed to energize the Irish as Farrell, sophomore forward John Mooney and sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs knocked down shots to tie the game back up at 41 with just under 15 minutes to play.

Louisville surged to another lead with a string of fouls called against the Irish, but a few offensive rebounds by the Irish led to two 3-pointers from Gibbs and the Irish led 51-50.

Already without Harvey, Notre Dame was forced to play the final stretch of the game without junior guard Rex Pflueger who fouled out with just under seven minutes left.

The Irish put the Cardinals in the bonus with over six minutes to go in the second half and Louisville took advantage, shooting 10-of-12 from the free-throw stripe in the period and tying the game at 60 with 3:25 remaining in the game.

The game was tied again at 62 entering the final 45 seconds of the game. Sophomore wing Nikola Djogo — who played extra minutes in place of Pflueger and Harvey — stole the ball and took it to the hoop. A mad scramble ensued for the rebound with Notre Dame coming up with the ball after four or five chances at the rim.

Farrell missed the potential game-winning 3-pointer and the game went into overtime.

Louisville jumped out to a 67-62 lead in the first overtime, but the Irish reeled the Cardinals back in with a lineup of Gibbs, Farrell, Geben, Djogo and Torres.

Entering the second overtime tied 71-71, junior forward Ray Spalding knocked down a jumper and Snider hit a tough corner 3 to put Louisville up 78-73.

With no Harvey or Pflueger and Farrell fatigued just coming back from an injury, the Irish couldn’t come back for a second time.

“That 3 in the corner in the second overtime, that’s a hard one to dig out of,” Brey said. “We dug out of a hole in the first overtime. It was a little too hard to dig out of the second time.”

“I think we’re pretty darn resilient,” he added. “I really have a lot of faith in the seniors.”

Notre Dame’s next game will be a road tilt with No. 20 Clemson on Saturday.