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Friday, March 9, 2012
Rapid Reaction: L'ville 64, Notre Dame 50

By Kieran Darcy



Overview: It might not be quite as impressive as what UConn pulled off last year, but Louisville is on a heck of a run here in New York City.

The Cardinals, the No. 7 seed in this year's Big East tournament, are headed to the championship game after knocking off No. 3 seed Notre Dame, 64-50.

Notre DameLouisvilleLouisville has now won three games in three days, taking out No. 10 seed Seton Hall, No. 2 seed Marquette and now the Fighting Irish. The Cardinals had a somewhat disappointing regular season, but are rising up the charts now in terms of NCAA tournament seeding.

Notre Dame will be in the Big Dance, too, but is now 0-5 in Big East semifinal games. The Irish lost to Louisville in last year's semis, too.

Turning point: Notre Dame took a 15-9 lead on a layup by Eric Atkins with 12:42 remaining in the first half. That was its last field goal of the half, believe it or not. Louisville outscored Notre Dame 26-4 the rest of the way and led 35-19 at intermission. The Cardinals' pressure defense simply suffocated the Fighting Irish.

Things didn't get any better for Notre Dame in the second half. The Irish managed to cut the deficit to 12 early on, but then the Cardinals poured it on again. Louisville led by as many as 24, and cruised to victory.

Key player: Louisville point guard Peyton Siva has been the MVP of this tournament so far. The 6-foot junior just missed a triple-double on Friday night, finishing with 13 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

Notre Dame big man Jack Cooley was named second-team All-Big East, but Louisville center Gorgui Dieng dominated him tonight. The 6-foot-11 sophomore finished with a game-high 16 points, making all eight of his shot attempts

Atkins had 12 points to lead Notre Dame.

Key stat: Notre Dame shot horribly on Friday night -- from everywhere. The Irish were 19-for-52 from the field (36.5 percent), 10-for-19 from the foul line (52.6 percent) -- and most importantly, 2-for-16 from 3-point range (12.5 percent).

Miscellaneous: Louisville has now been to the Big East title game in three of the past four seasons. The Cardinals won the tourney in 2009, and lost in the final to UConn last year.

What's next: Louisville will face No. 4 seed Cincinnati, which stunned top seed Syracuse earlier this evening, in the Big East championship game, at 9 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN.

Notre Dame is headed back to South Bend to prepare for next week's Big Dance.