Thursday, November 23, 2017
Sports

Irish still standing after marathon

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame watched a video of great boxing knockouts knowing their game against Louisville would probably be bruising.

It turned out to be the longest game in Big East regular-season history.

"I talked about it being a 15-rounder and taking punches and being put on the mat," coach Mike Brey said. "At the fourth or fifth timeout, I said, 'Has there ever been a 20-rounder?' "

If so, it couldn't have been any more thrilling than the No. 25 Fighting Irish's five-overtime victory over the No. 11 Cardinals late Saturday, a 104-101 decision in which the teams traded great plays and missed shots.

Afterward, even Louisville coach Rick Pitino forgot how long the game was, referring to it as a four-overtime game.

The previous conference regular-season record was a four-overtime game that happened 11 years ago to the day and also involved Notre Dame. The Irish beat Georgetown 116-111 in four OTs on Feb. 9, 2002.

Jack Cooley, who fouled out in regulation, said the Irish players scoffed at Brey when he talked about a 15-round boxing match.

"We're like, 15-round matches, that doesn't happen. And then we played five overtimes. So that's how it went," he said.

There was no knockout punch Saturday night, just some body blows.

Eric Atkins scored on a layup with 1:19 left in the fifth overtime, and Atkins and Pat Connaugton added free throws in the final 19 seconds as the Fighting Irish overcame an eight-point deficit in regulation.

Louisville's Russ Smith had a chance to tie it at the end of the fifth overtime, but his 3-point attempt missed before Notre Dame students flooded the court to celebrate. The Irish (19-5, 7-6 Big East) and Cardinals (19-5, 7-4) played into overtime for the sixth time in the past eight meetings.

"It's always overtime," said Chane Behanan, who led the Cardinals with a career-high 30 points and 15 rebounds. "The strongest will survive. They were a great team (Saturday) and made a lot of big shots."

Pitino, who didn't take questions after the game, credited the Irish. "They made some just incredible shots," he said. "I can't fault our defense. We were on them."

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