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No. 13 Louisville stopped playing good defense when it stopped making shots

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SOUTH BEND, Indiana — No. 13 Louisville stopped playing good defense when it stopped making shots.

That combination was too much for the Cardinals to overcome as Notre Dame rallied from 11 points down in the second half for a 71-66 victory Saturday, the second loss in three games for Louisville since the university announced a self-imposed postseason ban.

"We didn't really run our offense down the stretch. We missed shots and we played bad defense," said Quentin Snider, who finished with 12 points.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino said it's been a problem all season for the Cardinals (19-6, 8-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).

"This team has one major flaw that they have to get over. If they miss a shot, they put their head down and they don't think about defense. That's probably the No. 1 hurdle we have to get over this year," he said.

Snider said the Cardinals had trouble matching up with Notre Dame guards Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia in the second half.

"We had our bigs on the guards in the zone, and that's what killed us — having bigs on their guards, like Vasturia and Jackson. They got by us and made shots and created off that," he said.

Jackson matched his career high with 27 points, scoring 20 in the first half, and Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 in the second as he repeatedly drove inside. Jackson said he and Vasturia were just trying to be aggressive.

"Just attacking, going downhill, trying to create for ourselves and for others. With their defense, we had a lot of opportunities to attack, so we just wanted to take advantage of that and not be passive and just stay within ourselves and play our game," he said.

Vasturia said he was just following Jackson's lead.

"I saw Demetrius was able to get into the lane a lot, and he was scoring and getting looks for everybody else, too. I figured I could create a little bit as well," he said.

The Cardinals shot 49 percent in the first half and 28 percent in the second.

PHOTO: Louisville’s Raymond Spalding (13) strips the ball from Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem (3) during the second half of Notre Dame's 71-66 win against in an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
Louisville’s Raymond Spalding (13) strips the ball from Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem (3) during the second half of Notre Dame's 71-66 win against in an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)

Jackson said the Irish won because they played better defense in the second half.

"We just forced tougher shots. We forced them to miss some shots. They were great players over there. They've got some capable shot-makers, so just forcing them into difficult shots and then going to get a big defensive rebound, which (Zach Auguste) did a lot of today."

The Irish (18-7, 9-4) used three 7-0 spurts in the second half to get the win, the final one coming after Ray Spalding's layup with 6:36 remaining gave Louisville a 63-62 lead. The Irish regained the lead with a 3-pointer by V.J. Beachem, a layup by Auguste and two free throws by Jackson.

Damion Lee, who led the Cardinals with 13 points, hit a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left to cut the lead to 69-66. But Lee missed another 3-point try with 5 seconds left and Auguste clinched the win with two free throws a second later.

Auguste added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Irish and Bonzie Colson had 10 rebounds as the Irish outrebounded Louisville 41-29 and had a 30-20 advantage in scoring in the paint.

Snider said it's been a difficult stretch for Louisville, which imposed the postseason ban over violation of NCAA rules.

"Right now we're down. I'm not going to lie to you," he said. "We just have to get a win against Syracuse and get back that momentum and confidence and just try to bounce back."

TIP-INS

Louisville: Louisville lost consecutive games for the first time this season. ... Chinanu Onuaku had four blocked shots. ... Louisville lost consecutive games to Notre Dame for the first time since losing in 1973 and 1987.

Notre Dame: A moment of silence was held before the game for 1953 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lattner and Notre Dame graduate Ingrid Williams, wife of former Irish standout Monty Williams, now an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 44-year-old mother of five was killed in a car accident in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. ... The Irish improved to 3-3 against ranked opponents this season. ... Notre Dame has sold out four consecutive games, the only sellouts of the season.

UP NEXT

Louisville hosts Syracuse on Wednesday.

Notre Dame is at Georgia Tech on Feb. 20.

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