Louisville downs Notre Dame to advance to Big East finalMar 16, 2013 - 5:29 AM New York, NY (Sports Network) - Peyton Siva tied a Big East Tournament record with seven steals to go with 12 points and six assists, as No. 4 Louisville downed No. 24 Notre Dame, 69-57, in semifinal action at Madison Square Garden.
The reigning conference tourney champs never trailed and pulled away late in the second half to reach the title game for the fourth time in the past five years. The second-seeded Cardinals (28-5) have won nine straight and will take on Syracuse in Saturday's finale.
"I think around this time of year coach (Rick Pitino) really pushes us to become bring our game up to a higher level," Siva said. "We work so hard and condition so much that these three days are just like three days of practice."
Russ Smith had a game-high 20 points for Louisville and Luke Hancock added 11 thanks to 3-of-3 shooting behind the arc.
Notre Dame (25-9), playing its third game in as many days as the No. 6 seed, shot just 37 percent in falling in the semifinals for the fourth straight year. Jack Cooley and Jerian Grant led the Fighting Irish with 14 points each.
The last time Louisville lost came in a five-overtime thriller in South Bend on Feb. 9, but the Cardinals avenged that setback with a 16-point win over the Fighting Irish in the regular season finale and furthered their claim as a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a convincing win Friday.
They closed it out with a 10-3 run after Notre Dame cut its deficit to four, 45-41, with 7 1/2 minutes remaining.
Smith started the spurt with a 3-pointer, and Siva went in for a transition layup after a steal on the ensuing possession. After Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton made a 3-pointer, Siva found Smith inside for a bucket and Hancock followed with a triple from the right side for a 55-44 lead.
The closest Notre Dame got in the final four minutes was seven, ending its bid for its first Big East Tournament championship appearance before leaving for the ACC next season.
"I'm very disappointed we could never get to Saturday," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey admitted. "So a little bit of unfinished business, but we'll get over it quickly and get ready to prepare for next week."
Louisville led by as many as seven in the first half, with Hancock's corner 3- pointer just before the buzzer staking the Cardinals to a 32-25 cushion.
This was the third straight season these teams squared off in the semis ... Notre Dame is the first school to make it to four straight Big East semis since Connecticut did so from 2002-05 ... Smith tied Wes Unseld's single- season school record with 177 free throws made ... Connaughton made 15 3- pointers during the tournament, one shy of the record.
- NOTRE DAME: 57
Mar 15 11:53 PM
- NOTRE DAME: 25
Mar 15 10:38 PM
- NOTRE DAME: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Mar 15 9:53 PM
- Louisville sophomore Onuaku to undergo heart procedure May 17
- Louisville students' lawsuit against escort is dismissed May 3
- Beachem says he'll be back at Notre Dame for senior season May 1
- Notre Dame's Beachem enters NBA draft, won't hire an agent Apr 12
- Louisville announces more sanctions for men's basketball Apr 6
- Jackson: Meeting with Brey, NCAA play led him to opt for NBA Mar 30
- Notre Dame's Jackson decides to enter NBA draft Mar 29
- Brey: Notre Dame's Jackson has to explore entering NBA draft Mar 28
- Notre Dame can't find one last run to beat North Carolina Mar 28
- North Carolina and Notre Dame know each other well Mar 26
- Wisconsin's road to 3rd straight Final 4 runs through Irish Mar 25
- Notre Dame finally finding March success under Brey Mar 23