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Moments Of The Year — No. 4

This is the eighth installment of our series counting down the 12 most memorable events of the 2012-13 academic year. With the last final exams turned in, it’s time to look back at all the highs and lows of an eventful year in South Bend. These aren’t the best times or the worst times, simply the moments we’ll remember most when looking back.

Jerian Grant's 12-point spree in the final minute of regulation against Louisville led to the longest game in Big East history.

4. Late Night With The Cardinals

Feb. 9, 2013

Notre Dame and Louisville should start charging fans extra when they play one another. In their last 10 games, the old Big East foes have played 12 overtime periods. That’s six times that they have finished regulation in a tie since the start of the 2008 season. The longest of those recent battles started on a Saturday night in early February and rolled right on through until the early hours of Sunday morning.

Sixty-five minutes of game time after the opening tip Louisville’s Russ Smith clanked a three-point attempt off the rim and No. 25 Notre Dame could finally celebrate a 104-101 victory over the No. 11 Cardinals. Not that they had much energy left to enjoy the moment.

The excitement started with 51 seconds left in regulation when Irish guard Jerian Grant caught fire. Grant poured in 12 points in the final minute to bring the Irish back from an eight-point deficit. Grant knocked down a pair of contested three-pointers from well beyond the arc then added three more the old-fashioned way to tie the game with 16 seconds left on the clock. Prior to that point, he hadn’t scored in the game.

“I was frustrated all game with myself missing easy shots,” said Grant, who fouled out with 19 points in the first overtime period. “I just really did not want my team to lose. I feel like I willed us into overtime.”

The five overtimes that followed became a battle of attrition as starters from both teams began to run out of fouls. Senior Garrick Sherman came off the bench for the Irish and scored 17 of the team’s 44 points in the bonus periods. His biggest bucket was a putback layup to tie the score once again with five seconds left in the fourth overtime.

Junior Eric Atkins finally put the Irish up for good on a layup with 1:20 left in the fifth overtime. He and Pat Connaughton padded out the lead with free throws from there before the Irish student section rushed the court to try to keep the party going a little bit longer.

“Everybody was part of it tonight. It’s one of those magical nights in our building,” head coach Mike Brey said. “I can’t even remember all of the big plays different guys made to get us to where we’re at with a win like that. We’ve had a lot of good wins in this building, but I can’t remember one more thrilling or dramatic with different twists and turns.”

Louisville avenged the loss later in the year by beating Notre Dame in the regular-season finale and knocking them out of the Big East Tournament with less dramatic finishes. The Cardinals went on to win a national championship, making the Irish comeback and marathon victory a slightly bigger feather in their cap.

The neck-and-neck series won’t fall apart with the crumbling Big East either. Both schools are headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference over the next two seasons where they can continue to play well into the night.

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