Notre Dame’s 18-year run in the Big East Conference came to a close Friday night in the tournament semifinals. The 69-57 loss to Louisville stopped the Fighting Irish from checking a championship appearance off their list, and the program exits the league for the Atlantic Coast Conference without having won a regular-season crown or played for a conference tourney title.
Head coach Mike Brey’s 13-year tenure in the league produced a 136-84 (.618) regular season record and 10-13 mark in the Big East Championship. Combined, Brey’s teams went 146-97 in conference play. The Fighting Irish finished 11-18 overall at the Big East Championship in New York since joining the league in 1995-96.
Former Irish coaches John MacLeod and Matt Doherty combines for a 34-53 record in regular-season conference play and a 1-5 mark in the conference tournament from 1995-2000. Doherty, who coached for one year in 1999-2000 before taking the North Carolina job, was the first coach to lead Notre Dame to a .500 record (8-8). Brey, a three-time Big East Coach of the Year, had just two losing seasons — a 6-10 performance in 2005-06 and an 8-10 finish in 2008-09.
Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton hit three 3-point field goals against the Cardinals and finished with 15 for the tournament — one short of the tournament record of 16 set by Syracuse's Gerry McNamara (2006) and Connecticut’s Albert Mourning (2000). Syracuse’s James Southerland tied that record Friday in the Orange’s 58-55 overtime victory over Georgetown in the semifinals.
Connaughton went 15-of-24 (.625) from deep in three games. Southerland went 16-of-25 (.640) in three games, with a fourth tonight in the title game against Louisville. Connaughton was just 4-of-17 (.235) in the final four Big East regular-season games. He heads into the NCAA Tournament shooting 37.5 percent (57-of-152) from behind the arc.
Louisville guard Peyton Siva tied the Big East Championship single-game record with seven steals in Friday’s win over the Irish. He becomes the 11th player to register seven steals in a tournament game and the first since Louisville's Terrence Williams did so against Syracuse in the 2009 final. Siva also joined Jaron Brown (Pitt, 2004), Allen Griffin (Syracuse, 2001), Omar Cook (St. John’s, 2001), John Linehan (Providence, 1999), Ray Allen (Connecticut, 1996), Eric Murdock (Providence, 1991), John Morton (Seton Hall, 1986), Chris Mullin (St. John’s, 1985) and Dwayne McClain (Villanova, 1984).
Siva also set Louisville's career steals record tonight with 236, passing the old mark of 230 held by Darrell Griffith. Louisville's Russ Smith went 3-for-4 from the free throw line and broke the school's single-season record for made free throws. Smith has hit 179 foul shots this year, passing Wes Unseld's mark from of 177 from the 1967-68 season.
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