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Louisville conquers ACC’s juggernaut, Notre Dame, adds 1st-ever ACC Title

The Louisville Cardinals earned its first conference title in 25 years with a thrilling victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC Tournament - Notre Dame vs Louisville Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Greensboro, N.C. — The top seeded Louisville Cardinals are the 2018 ACC Conference Champions.

The Cardinals have not won a conference tournament championship since 1993 when Louisville won the Metro Conference Tournament Championship.

In a game that had 14 lead changes and eight ties, the Cardinals outlasted the four time ACC Conference Champions Notre Dame.

In the previous meeting between the two teams, Louisville handed Notre Dame its worst loss of the season, in a 100-67 decision.

The Fighting Irish looked to avenge the blowout, this time with the ACC Conference Tournament Championship on the line.

And they nearly succeeded.

In a match where Marina Mabrey was not shooting the ball well, Arike Ogunbowale and Jessica Shepard came up huge for Notre Dame.

In the first frame alone, Shepard was able to score in the paint at will, picking up 11 of the Irish's 21 first quarter points.

Notre Dame came out hot early, going on a 6-0 run while holding Louisville scoreless for nearly two minutes. The Irish were able to pull ahead by three points, 10-7, before Louisville guard Arica Carter fired off a triple to tie the game at 10. A 10 - 2 run put the Cardinals up, 17-10 into the first media timeout.

The Fighting Irish tried its best to get Louisville's starters in foul trouble early and succeeded. Sam Fuehring, Jazmine Jones and Myisha Hines-Allen each picked up two fouls in the first frame, limiting their minutes. With Louisville in foul trouble, Notre Dame picked up seven unanswered points behind Shepard and, again, tied the game at 19.

But, the Cardinals overcame the adversity. Louisville and Notre Dame ended the first quarter tied at 21.

Asia Durr came alive in the second frame. The junior guard, who has not had the best conference tournament, scored seven points on 3-of-7 shooting.

The Cardinals would take an early three point advantage behind scoring from Durr and Carter, but Notre Dame stormed back grabbing six unanswered points.

The Irish looked to bench player, Kristina Nelson, to fill in for Mabrey, who went 2-of-10 in the first half. Nelson came up big for Notre Dame with eight points in the second frame alone. Nelson was unstoppable and helped the Irish to a 37 - 35 lead at the half.

For the third day in a row, the Cardinals came out of the half re-energized and ready to compete. Despite taking an early five point deficit, Louisville outscored Notre Dame 20-13 in the third quarter.

Louisville was able to look to its forwards, who were in foul trouble early in the match. Hines-Allen and Fuehring combined for 12 of the Cardinals' 20 points.

The Cardinals shot 88% from the field into the first media timeout of the second half. Louisville held Notre Dame scoreless for the final two minutes of the quarter and took a five point led into the final 10 minutes, 55-50.

Louisville would extend the lead to eight before Notre Dame, behind Ogunbowale, grabbed six easy points. The Irish would come as close as one points, 63-62, before falling in the final seconds.

Ogunbowale knocked down two triples in the final seconds, but it was not enough. The Cardinals squashed the Irish's hope to make history as the first ACC team to win five straight regular season and conference titles.

A new queen of the ACC was crowned as Louisville outlasted Notre Dame, 74-72.

The Cardinals completed its incredible conference season with an 18-1 record, an ACC Regular Season title and an ACC Conference Tournament title.

Top Scorers:

Louisville had five players notch double-figures: Asia Durr found her groove and led the Cardinals with 17 points and five rebounds. Arica Carter knocked down four three-pointers and earned 16 points, while dishing out a team-best six assists. Myisha Hines-Allen grabbed 15 points, nine boards and four assists, while Sam Fuehring also added 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting. Rounding out the top scorers for the Cardinals was Jazmine Jones who collected 11 points and six assists.

For Notre Dame, two players notched double-digits: Jessica Shepard led all scorers with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Arike Ogunbowale added 20 points.