The fourth time was not the charm for the Notre Dame basketball team. In their fourth consecutive trip to the Big East Tournament semifinals, the Fighting Irish fell 69-57 to Louisville Friday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It marks the second straight year the Irish (25-9) have lost in the Big East semifinals to Louisville (28-5).
Louisville got out to an early seven-point lead, but Notre Dame settled down and tied the game 22-22 on a spinning layup by Garrick Sherman with 6:03 to play in the first half. The bucket gave Sherman a string of six consecutive points for the Irish. He started the game by hitting his first four attempts from the floor, but was 0-for-4 from the field in the second half.
The Cardinals closed the first 20 minutes on a 10-3 spurt to lead 32-25 at halftime. Both teams shot well over the first 20 minutes. The Irish were 9-for-20 (45%), while Louisville was right behind at 13-for-29 (44%). ND hit just 10-of-30 second half shots to finish the night at 38 percent. Louisville hit 47% (25-for-53) overall.
Pat Connaughton continued his hot three-point shooting in the first half by hitting 2-of-3 from behind the arc. Connaughton came into the semifinal matchup with a total of 12 three-pointers in his first two Big East Tournament games.
The Cardinals put the clamps on Connaughton in the second half though. He finished 3-of-6 with nine points. Of the 26 shots he attempted in three games, 24 were three-pointers. His 15 treys in three games is one shy of the Big East record is 16 in one tournament.
Louisville took a 34-25 lead just moments into the second half, but the Irish used a 6-0 run to pull within three. Notre Dame got as close as three as their deficit hovered around a half dozen points for the majority of the second half, but the Cardinals used a 10-3 run to go up 55-44 with four minutes to play and the Fighting Irish were never able to overcome the margin.
Jack Cooley, who scored a total of eight points in the first two games of the tournament, tied Jerian Grant to lead the Irish with 14 points. Cooley was 8-of-8 at the free throw line and 3-of-5 from the field. Grant was 4-of-11 from the floor, including 2-of-7 from three-point range.
Louisville's Peyton Siva had seven steals to tie the Big East Tournament record for a single game with 10 other players.
The Cardinals have a chance to repeat as Big East Tournament champs. They face Syracuse, which beat Georgetown 58-55 in overtime in Friday's first semifinal game, in Saturday night's championship game. Notre Dame will find out its next opponent Sunday night when the NCAA Tournament field is announced.