SOUTH BEND – Louisville's Dwayne Sutton came up big when the No. 13 Cardinals needed him the most on the road against Notre Dame.
“My teammates did a nice job finding me. It wasn't my night offensively,” said the 6-foot-5 Sutton, who hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final 4:05 to finish with 10 points and 14 rebounds as the Cardinals closed with a 10-5 run to hold off an Irish upset bid in a 67-64 Atlantic Coast Conference victory on Saturday.
ACC leading scorer Jordan Nwora had a game-high 20 points and reserve guard Ryan McMahon added 17 for the Cardinals (13-3, 4-1 ACC) to begin a three-game road trip.
“This team needed to figure a way to cut through some adversity,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. “I loved the way we finished the game. A couple of our guys played like experienced players in a tough moment, Dwayne Sutton in particular.”
John Mooney, who notched his 10th straight double-double and 13th of the season with 15 points and 19 rebounds for the Fighting Irish (10-6, 1-4), credited Sutton after Notre Dame stumbled at the end for its second straight loss.
“When Sutton hits two bombs at the end, it's tough – you tip your hat,” Mooney said. “They just made more plays down the stretch.”
T.J. Gibbs matched Mooney's 15 points, scoring 13 after intermission, and reserve Dane Goodwin had 14, 11 in the second half, as the Irish managed to erase a 36-24 deficit but failed to finish again.
“I feel for us the way we battled back,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “Give them credit – they're really good and Sutton drilled two really big ones.”
Trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half, Notre Dame opened the second with an 11-1 run. Mooney's 3-pointer brought the Irish within 36-29 early in the half and then Goodwin hit a pair of 3-pointers to cut the Louisville lead to 37-35.
McMahon re-entered the game, and he and Nwora hit 3-pointers to give Louisville an edge, but the Irish kept coming and Goodwin's third 3-pointer gave them a 55-53 lead with 7:04 left.
A Goodwin follow of a Prentiss Hubb miss made it 59-55 Irish with 5:25 left as Louisville missed six of seven shots. But after a timeout with 4:05 left, a 10-5 Louisville run, fueled by two 3-pointers by Sutton, sealed the victory.
From an 11-11 tie with 13:09 left in the first half, the Cardinals pulled away to a 12-point halftime lead built on 41% shooting (15 of 37) and a strong defensive performance that limited the Irish to just 31% shooting (11 of 35). Notre Dame endured a pair of scoring droughts of 4:05 and 4:39.