Cardinals clip Notre Dame women's basketball in ACC title game

Joedy McCreary
Associated Press

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Louisville coach Jeff Walz clipped the final piece of net, twirled it over his head and flung it back toward the court. Myisha Hines-Allen proudly wore it around her neck.

Savor it, Cardinals. For the first time in a quarter century, you can call yourselves conference tournament champions.

Asia Durr scored 17 points and Sam Fuehring converted a key three-point play in the final minute, helping No. 4 Louisville beat No. 5 Notre Dame, 74-72, on Sunday to win its first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title.

"I've been saying it over and over again," said Durr, the ACC's player of the year. "I'm speechless. I'm just in awe."

Arica Carter finished with 16 points and hit four 3-pointers. Fuehring and Hines-Allen, the tournament MVP, each scored 15.

Durr, the ACC's player of the year, hit four free throws in the final seconds to help the top-seeded Cardinals (32-2) win their first conference tournament since 1993 in the Metro Conference.

"I hope it puts a smile on everybody's face," Walz said. "It's been a remarkable run, but we aren't finished. ... We've got bigger fish to fry."

Jessica Shepard had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Arike Ogunbowale added 20 points for the second-seeded Irish (29-3), who failed to win the ACC Tournament for the first time since joining the league. They'd won four straight championship games by at least 11 points apiece.

“I thought that Louisville played a really good game,'' Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. "I thought they made big shots when they had to; they had some huge offensive rebounds ...

“We had some opportunities that we squandered, but our execution wasn't quite as good. I think that's because of their defense. They did a great job defensively and we were not able to really see the mismatches when we had them. I thought we could have gotten the ball into Jess a little bit more, but I thought Jess played a great game.”

Notre Dame, a 36-percent shooting team from 3-point range, was 3 for 10 and missed seven of its first eight from that distance before Ogunbowale hit two in the final seconds. Mabrey, a 37 percent shooter from that distance, was just 1 of 5 and finished with seven points — half her average.

"They really weren't going to let Marina (2-for-10 shooting) get free for anything today," McGraw said.

Notre Dame trailed 65-64 with the ball in the final minute before turning it over on a shot-clock violation with 45.5 seconds left. Fuerhing then hit a layup through contact from Marina Mabrey with 24.9 seconds left and hit the free throw to make it 68-64.

After Shepard countered with a quick jumper, Louisville went 6 of 6 from the free-throw line in the final 18.2 seconds, with Durr going 4 for 4 in that stretch, to seal it. Ogunbowale hit a halfcourt-plus shot at the buzzer to produce the final score.

All those injuries might finally have caught up to the Irish, who essentially played with just six players. With those depth issues, winning three games in three days on a neutral court wound up being a pretty tough request.

Louisville shot 65 percent in a 33-point victory over ND in January that wound up being the tiebreaker for the top seed in this tournament. Louisville shot 45 percent in this one, placing all five starters in double figures, and became the first team since Connecticut in 2015 to beat the Fighting Irish twice in a season.

It had been a rough week for Durr, the ACC player of the year who went 6 of 27 — and 1 for 12 from 3-point range — in her first two tournament games. But she made a big shot with her team's lead in jeopardy.

Notre Dame made it a two-possession game with less than five minutes left. After Carter missed a 3, Hines-Allen grabbed the rebound and kicked it out to Durr, who drained a 3 from the key to put the Cardinals up 63-56.

Tense handshake

Television cameras caught a tense moment when the coaches met during the handshake line. Walz said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw referred to Durr as "the other player that won" the ACC player of the year award instead of Ogunbowale — and the Louisville coach didn't like it.

"I just wanted to make sure she knew who Asia Durr was," Walz said. "Just have the common courtesy to say her name. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'm going to stand up for my player. ... Just have the respect to say her name, that's all."

NOTRE DAME (29-3)

Shepard 10-14 3-3 23, Westbeld 3-6 0-0 6, Mabrey 2-10 2-2 7, Ogunbowale 8-17 2-2 20, Young 4-9 0-0 8, Nelson 4-6 0-0 8, Patterson 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 31-63 7-7 72.

LOUISVILLE (32-2)

Fuehring 6-6 3-3 15, Hines-Allen 7-15 1-2 15, Carter 5-14 2-2 16, Durr 5-12 4-4 17, Jones 5-11 1-2 11, Dunham 0-0 0-0 0, Shook 0-1 0-0 0, Evans 0-3 0-0 0, Zambrotta 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 28-62 11-13 74.

Notre Dame 21 16 13 22 —72

Louisville 21 14 20 19 —74

3-Point Goals--Notre Dame 3-10 (Westbeld 0-1, Mabrey 1-5, Ogunbowale 2-4), Louisville 7-18 (Carter 4-9, Durr 3-8, Jones 0-1). Assists--Notre Dame 14 (Mabrey 5), Louisville 22 (Carter 6). Fouled Out--None. Rebounds--Notre Dame 35 (Shepard 10), Louisville 26 (Hines-Allen 9). Total Fouls--Notre Dame 16, Louisville 13. Technical Fouls--None.A--7,424.

Louisville's Sam Fuehring (3) celebrates after making a basket against Notre Dame and being fouled in the closing minutes of Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, March 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)