SOUTH BEND – Chances at the end were there — right there — but nothing ever got going. Or fell.
Then Notre Dame did.
Unable to get a good look or anything clean in the final seconds with a possible tie there for the taking, the Irish were instead handed a 67-64 loss to No. 13 Louisville.
Notre Dame slips to 10-6, 1-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
John Mooney finished with 15 points and 19 rebounds for his 13th double double.
A second 3 from Dwayne Sutton gave Louisville a 65-62 lead with 1:58 remaining. A Fresh Kimble drive then extended the lead to five with 73 seconds left.
Having clawed all the way back from a deep double-digit deficit, Notre Dame took a 55-53 lead with 7:02 remaining following a Dane Goodwin wing 3. The place got loud. Excited. Energized, really for one of the few times over the last two seasons. This one became a game.
Down a dozen at half, Notre Dame returned to make five of its first six shots, including a trio of 3s from Goodwin (two) and John Mooney (one) to climb back within two, 39-37. Louisville looked nothing like it did in the first half. The Cardinals made only one of the first eight shots and just kind of coasted through the first five minutes of the final 20.
A 21-5 Louisville run in which guard Ryan McMahon of today looked a lot like of Syracuse’s Gerry McNamara of yesterday helped the Cardinals threaten to run away with this one about halfway through the first half.
Averaging just under nine points a game, McMahon erupted for 12 points in a quick burst where nobody on Notre Dame could guard him. He got to the basket twice. He drained 3s. He did everything.
Louisville led by as many as 16 in a half that looked way too familiar for Notre Dame.
The Irish couldn’t get any traction because they couldn’t make shots. Notre Dame went one stretch of over four minutes without a basket and another nearly five without a basket. The Irish shot 31.4 percent from the field, 15.4 percent from 3 in the first half.
The Irish were fortunate to be down by only a dozen, 36-24, at the break.
The lone bright spot was Mooney, who picked up another double double for points and rebounds this season before intermission. Mooney had grabbed eight rebounds before the first half was half over. He had 10 points and 14 rebounds at the break.
Irish guard Rex Pflueger was back in the starting lineup Saturday after missing the second half of the win at Syracuse and all of Wednesday’s loss at North Carolina State with a bone bruise to his left (surgically-repaired) knee.
Pflueger’s worn a variety of braces and sleeves on his left leg this season. He went Saturday with only a band below the knee. Pflueger then connected on his first shot - a 3. He entered the game having gone scoreless in three of the last four games and four of seven.
Notre Dame is back on the road Wednesday at Georgia Tech.