Louisville takes first ACC tournament title, makes a point in win over Notre Dame

Louisville holds off Notre Dame for ACC title (0:48)

All five Louisville starters score in double digits to lead the Cardinals to the ACC crown, 74-72 over Notre Dame. (0:48)

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- If you were expecting the Asia Durr show in Sunday's ACC championship game, rest assured.

The ACC player of the year finished with a team-high 17 points for Louisville, which was finally able to hoist a trophy that belonged to Notre Dame the previous four years.

Louisville (32-2) deposed of the Irish, 74-72, in an exhilarating finale punctuated by Irish junior Arike Ogunbowale's final basket -- a heave of some 60 feet that's certainly worthy of SportsCenter's Top Plays.

But most of the highlights of a game that featured two likely NCAA tournament No. 1 seeds came from Louisville, which demonstrated a balance on both ends of the floor reminiscent of the gang from Storrs, Connecticut.

It's easy to point first to Durr, something Cardinals coach Jeff Walz made a point of doing while the balloons were still falling inside the Greensboro Coliseum. In his postgame handshake with Muffet McGraw, he had this to say to the Irish coach, who had made no secret of the fact she believes Ogunbowale should have received the player of the year nod over Durr, whom she did not refer to by name.

"I wanted to make sure she knew who Asia Durr was," Walz said. "The comment that she felt Arike should be player of the year because she had more rebounds, more assists, is fine. But at least rather than saying, 'The other player that won,' just have the common courtesy to say her name. So, I just wanted to make sure she knew who Asia was. I don't think there's anything wrong with that."

Durr wasn't dominant in Louisville's trio of wins here. She didn't come close to a monster performance like the 36 she dumped on the Irish on Jan. 11 and she wasn't named to the 10-player first or second all-tournament team.

But credit the 5-foot-10 guard from Douglasville, Georgia, for producing one of the bigger plays of a game that featured 13 lead changes and eight ties.

Back-to-back baskets by the Irish's Jessica Shepard cut an eight-point deficit in half, 60-56, with 5 minutes, 20 seconds left in the game. On the ensuing possession, Arica Carter misfired on a 3-pointer just before the shot clock buzzer, but Myisha Hines-Allen collected the offensive board and rifled it to Durr.

Without hesitating, the junior buried her third triple of the game.

"I thought the offensive rebound kick out was probably the dagger and the game-winning shot," McGraw said.

It was the second key assist for tournament MVP Hines-Allen in the period, who also found Sam Fuehring underneath for what turned into a three-point play and a 68-64 advantage with 24.9 seconds left.


"That play when I passed it to Sam, that's something we do all the time," said Hines-Allen, who amassed 53 points in the three tournament wins. If those numbers sound good enough for an ACC player of the year, remember the 6-2 senior nabbed that honor in 2016.

Fuehring finishing was no surprise, either. The 6-3 junior post, easily the most improved player on this team, was perfect on all six of her attempts from the field for 15 points and five boards.

"Sam, she's played like that this whole season, and I'm just glad that she took advantage of this opportunity and showed the country what she can do," Hines-Allen said.

So did Carter. McGraw called the Louisville point guard, whose 4-of-9 effort from beyond the arc produced 12 of her 16 points, the biggest difference in the game.

"She was the one that really showed up big for them," said McGraw, conceding that the Irish struggled against Louisville's relentless ball pressure. Never was that more evident than when, trailing by one inside of a minute, the Irish were unable to get off a play even after a timeout.

Louisville sealed it by nailing all seven of its free throws in the final 24 seconds.

Ogunbowale's two 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds pushed her final point total to 20, and Shepard poured in 23 with 10 boards for the lone double-double of the game.

"We couldn't handle her," Walz said. "It we a really, really good basketball game. If you're a fan, you had to enjoy it. It had runs, had big-time plays, big-time shots. It was just entertaining."

While this was likely a matchup for conference bragging rights rather than national tournament seeding, the Cardinals taking home their first ACC championship is a feat in its own right. Notre Dame came into the 2017-18 season 62-2 all-time in conference play, and the Cardinals had not advanced past the tournament semifinals since joining the league four years ago.

A half hour after cutting down her part of the net that she wore around her neck, Durr struggled to put her feelings into perspective.

"I've been saying it for like the last 30 minutes; I'm speechless," she said. "I'm just in awe. Just to see our team. We fight hard. We fight hard."

Enjoy it, urged Walz, especially after a turbulent year in Louisville athletics that saw their athletic director and coach Rick Pitino fired after scandal in the men's basketball program.

The fans can savor, but the Cardinals get only 48 hours to do so.

"We haven't finished," he said. "I'll let the players enjoy this for two days and then we've got bigger fish to fry."