No. 16 Louisville can't stop No. 12 Notre Dame down the stretch in 71-59 loss to the Irish

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LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — Louisville's defensive consistency was lacking in Wednesday's 71-59 loss to No. 12 Notre Dame.

Some improvement is needed quickly with No. 2 Virginia coming to town on Saturday and the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament following next week.

"We've got to find that defensive edge that we've always had," said Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds. "Right now, it's not there."

The Irish made their final seven shots to pull away for the victory and clinch third place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Demetrius Jackson's 3-pointer with 7:52 left, part of his 21 points, gave the Irish a 53-48 lead and started Notre Dame's late flurry of consecutive baskets.

Louisville made just three of its 16 field goals in the final 11:05 as it watched a 47-46 lead slip away.

"It was very disappointing in terms of us quick shooting, taking ill-advised shots and our breakdowns defensively," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.

Louisville (23-7, 11-6 ACC) scored the first 11 points after halftime to tie the game at 42 with 16:37 remaining and seemed to have the pace it wanted.

"We put ourselves in a great position a couple of times to be right there," Harrell said. "We just couldn't get over the hump because we gave up wide-open 3s and gave up second-chance shots."

Jackson later added consecutive jumpers to twice provide nine-point cushions that sealed the victory for the Fighting Irish (25-5, 13-4).

He also had plenty of help from other teammates such as Bonzie Colson, who made a big jumper down the stretch en route to 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting.

Jerian Grant added 12 points and Steve Vasturia 10 as Notre Dame finished 54 percent from the field and made 20 of 25 from the free-throw line in winning for the fourth time in five games.

"I'm really proud of my team to come in this atmosphere and beat an NCAA tournament team," said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, whose team won for just the second time in 10 visits to Louisville.

"I was a little concerned how sharp we'd be — we hadn't played in eight days. I thought we responded great."

Wayne Blackshear and Terry Rozier each had 11 for the Cardinals, who just didn't have enough offense to keep up with an Irish squad whose 50.8 shooting rate ranked second nationally.

Rozier struggled, shooting 4 of 15 from the field with coach Rick Pitino noting that he was 0 for 5 on challenged shots.

"I just take full blame for this game," Rozier said.

At times, Louisville's defense also struggled to hang with Notre Dame's movement in a fast-paced game that resembled their old days as Big East rivals.

Louisville scored the game's first six points before Notre Dame scored the next 10 to take the lead with a fast tempo and multiple passes to find the open man. Good things often followed as the Irish started 11 of 15 from the field, including four 3-pointers.

Notre Dame cooled off to finish the half 58 percent from the field, good enough to lead 42-31 at halftime and punctuated by Grant's fadeaway jumper at the buzzer.

TRAVEL TROUBLES:

Notre Dame didn't arrive in Louisville until 1 a.m. Wednesday because its original plane had mechanical issues. A replacement plane was flown up from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to make the 30-minute trip south.

TIP-INS:

Notre Dame: The Irish finished with their best conference road record ever (7-2).

Louisville: The 42 first-half points allowed were a season high for the Cardinals. ... Despite wintry weather, 21,024 showed up for Louisville's next-to-last home game.

UP NEXT:

Louisville hosts No. 2 Virginia on Saturday.

Notre Dame hosts Clemson on Saturday.

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