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No. 3 Fighting Irish delivers knockout blow, breaks Louisville's heart

In a great game for women's college basketball, it was the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish who stole the show. Despite Louisville's dominant defense, the Cardinals' could not hold on to pull out the win, falling to the Irish in a heartbreaker, 66-61.

Photo by Pat McDonogh/The Courier-Journal

Louisville, KY -- The Notre Dame Fighting Irish snapped No. 13 Louisville's 15 game win streak to take the sole lead in the ACC.

Notre Dame won the tip and immediately scored on a Kathryn Westbred layup. The Cardinals forced up a shot and Notre Dame rebounded, but Briahanna Jackson quickly stole the ball and put up a jumper to put two on the board for the Cardinals with 9:22 on the clock.

A foul on Jackson sent Madison Cable to the line to shoot two. Notre Dame led the Cardinals 4-2. Myisha Hines-Allen drove to the basket for two, but Notre Dame's Brianna Turner countered with a jumper. Hines-Allen pulled the Cardinals ahead by two connecting on a jumper with 6:26 in the first period.

A missed three-point shot by Michaela Mabrey and a rebound by the Cardinals got the ball in Cortnee Walton's hands who connected on a jump shot. Louisville held the Fighting Irish scoreless for nearly two minutes as the Cardinals went up 10-6 midway through the first period.

Mabrey ended the Irish's scoring drought firing off a three to cut the Louisville lead to one. A foul on Hines-Allen put Arike Ogunbowale to the line to shoot two and give Notre Dame an 11-10 lead. Asia Durr fired off a three to put the Cardinals back on top, 13-11 at the first media timeout.

Louisville extended the lead as Mariya Moore fired off a shot for two. The Cardinals were able to hold tight ending the first period, 24-19.

Moore struck first in second period driving to the basket to put the Cardinals up by seven, 26-19. Allen connected on a jumper to cut Louisville's lead to five. Both teams went scoreless for nearly two minutes.

However, the drought came to an end as Taja Cole fouled Ogunbowale, sending her to the line to hit one of two. Asia Durr, Arica Carter and Sam Fuehring connected on jumpers to put the Cardinals up, 33-26. Louisville held on to the lead heading into the half up, 35-30.

Louisville shot 42.4% from the field in the first half, as the Cardinals hit 14-33. Moore led all scorers in the first racking up 12 points. Louisville forced six Notre Dame turnovers and scored six points off the turnovers.

Notre Dame entered the third period ready to play.

Madison Cable struck first on a layup, but a Hannah Huffman foul sent Cortnee Walton to the line to shoot two.

The Cardinals went on a 6-0 run with scoring from Hines-Allen and Jackson. Louisville led by nine with 6:11 remaining in the third period.

The Fighting Irish turned up the heat midway through the period. Lindsay Allen was crucial for Notre Dame as she grabbed six points and one steal. The Fighting Irish forced five Louisville turnovers and scored four of their 15 third period points off the turnovers.

Briahanna Jackson hit a jumper at the buzzer, and the Cardinals led 49-45 going into the final period.

Louisville could not find an answer for Turner, allowing her to drive to the basket for three consecutive shots in less than two minutes. Notre Dame chipped away at the lead, bringing the Irish within two and forcing a Louisville timeout.

Out of the timeout, Hines-Allen picked up her fifth foul, sending Cable to the line to shoot two with 3:07 remaining.

The Cardinals struggled to put up points and get defensive stops without Hines-Allen. Louisville went 5-of-22 from the field in the final period.

Notre Dame's quick pace wore down the Cardinals in the fourth period. Despite the Cardinals' efforts to fight back, the Irish pulled out the win, 66-61.

Louisville finished the evening connecting on 36.2% from the field, hitting 25-of-69 shots. The Cardinals dominated the glass outrebounding the Fighting Irish, 44-35. Louisville also held Notre Dame to an uncharacteristic two made shots from beyond the arc.

The Cardinals had three players hit double-figures: Myisha Hines-Allen paced the Cardinals tallying 16 points and pulling down seven rebounds. Mariya Moore fell close behind racking up 12 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out three assists. Briahanna Jackson added 11 points, six rebounds and came up with three steals.

For the Irish, four players grabbed double-figures: Arike Ogunbowale led Notre Dame putting up 15 points. Brianna Turner and Madison Cable chipped in 13 points apiece. Cable also pulled down 12 rebounds, 11 defensive, to earn her third double-double on the season. Rounding out the top scorers, Lindsay Allen chipped in 12 points.

The Cardinals suffered their first ACC loss of the season in a hard-fought game against an incredibly talented Notre Dame team. The progress Louisville has made since entering conference play is astounding.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw spoke of Louisville's talent in the post game press conference, "I think Louisville is top five team. I think when they play well like they did in the first half... They are a very tough team to play."

"We definitely have some room to improve," Coach Jeff Walz said of his Cardinals', "Overall, I think we showed a lot of people today that we have made a lot of progress, there's no question, but we have a lot more to go."

Louisville has a few days down before hitting the road to face the Pittsburgh Panthers on Thursday.