Men’s basketball downs Louisville 82-70
J.J. Post | Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Notre Dame basketball notched their first win on the road over Louisville since 2015, downing the Cardinals 82-70 Sunday afternoon.
The shootout match was a tale of two halves for the Irish, who shot well in the first frame but struggled to stop an outpouring of Louisville scoring and entered the locker room down 45-38. In the second half, however, Notre Dame kept its foot on the gas while containing the Cardinal attack, pulling away on a 44-25 run in the final 20 minutes and turning a hotly competitive game for most of the afternoon into a comfortable win.
Freshman Blake Wesley led the way for the Irish, maintaining a hot hand from the field all night, going 3 for 4 from beyond the arc and 8 of 13 from the field for a game-high 22 points. In a game where Notre Dame needed to stay hot from deep to keep a streaky Louisville team within arms’ length, Wesley stepped up and proved an efficient scorer on all three levels, as well as a skilled ballhandler.
Paul Atkinson also pitched in a key performance down low, continuing an impressive season as Notre Dame’s go-to big man in the paint. Atkinson only missed one field goal all game, and grabbed five boards to go with his 13 points.
Jarrod West paced the Cardinals, providing a spark from deep all night in the high scoring affair. Of West’s team-high 14 points, 12 came from behind the arc, with the graduate student guard connecting on all four of his three point attempts.
The Irish now face a crucial juncture in their season with a three-game homestand ahead of them over the next two weeks. Having built back some momentum with an assertive win over Louisville following a scare against Howard, Notre Dame now has a chance to notch two more all-important ACC victories before what’s set to be a marquee showdown against Duke at Purcell Pavilion.
Duke has already dropped two conference games this season, and for the first time in years the ACC appears to be wide open. While few would reasonably expect Notre Dame to compete for the title, if the Irish can dispatch North Carolina State and Virginia in South Bend over the next week and then shock Duke in primetime on Monday, nobody will be counting out Mike Brey’s squad heading into the February stretch.
Notre Dame’s success in the upcoming homestand will hinge on an offense that’s heavily outperformed the defense in 2021. The Irish are 9-2 in games when they score over 70 points, compared to just 3-4 when they fail to hit the 70-point threshold. The trio of Dane Goodwin, who has emerged as a dark-horse contender for ACC Player of the Year, Blake Wesley and Paul Atkinson will all need to be at their best for the Irish to be at their best.
The Irish will look to extend their new winning streak to three games Wednesday night against North Carolina State, with their first home game in two weeks tipping off at 9 p.m. at Purcell Pavilion.