LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Rebounding dominance helped No. 8 Louisville offset offensive inconsistency and create opportunities that ultimately got the job done against No. 19 Notre Dame.
Several Cardinals thrived at different times to earn the double-round bye they sought in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Donovan Mitchell scored 20 points, including four free throws in the final 22 seconds, and Deng Adel made a big 3-pointer to help Louisville hold off Notre Dame 71-64 on Saturday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Quentin Snider added 17 points, including four second-half 3-pointers that gave the Cardinals the edge in a back-and-forth game with the Fighting Irish, who trailed 64-62 with 50 seconds remaining. Adel followed with the pivotal 3 just 13 seconds later before Mitchell sealed Louisville's hard-earned victory at the foul line.
The Cardinals outrebounded the Fighting Irish 44-27 to earn slim scoring margins in the paint and second-chance points. That meant a lot in a game featuring six ties and 12 lead changes.
"Down the stretch we did some really good things with the game on the defensive end," Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said. "It was excellent defense, and offense, when the game was on the line and that is exactly what you want to see."
Louisville gained a second-place tie with Florida State and Notre Dame but will be seeded fourth in next week's ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, New York. Florida State is the No. 2 seed, while the Irish are seeded third.
The top four seeds don't play until Thursday's quarterfinals and all of them know they just need to win three games in three days — no more than that — to take the championship.
"It's huge," Mitchell said. "I told everybody, 'Let's win this game because I don't want to play Wednesday. We didn't want to go to the tournament especially on a two-game losing streak. We wanted to come out and play for Thursday."
Senior forward Mangok Mathiang came off the bench to score a career-best 18 points with 11 rebounds in his home finale as Louisville (24-7, 12-6) avoided its first losing streak this season.
"I just went out there and kept attacking the basket," said Mathiang, who posted his fourth career double-double.
Bonzie Colson had 20 points and V.J. Beachem added 17 with eight rebounds for Notre Dame (23-8, 12-6), which had won six straight and hoped to earn at least a share of the ACC title.
Instead, the Irish finished two games behind regular-season champion North Carolina after the Tar Heels defeated Duke on Saturday night.
Notre Dame: The Irish had outshot the Cardinals much of the game but were crushed on the boards throughout. That deficiency was telling as they failed to come up with rebounds at key moments down the stretch that could have changed momentum in a tight game. The Irish shot 41 percent in having their three-game winning streak against Louisville snapped.
"We had opportunities, but Louisville played great," Colson said. "They hit big shots when they needed to."
Louisville: Mathiang didn't start but provided the initial spark off the bench with 12 first-half points and five rebounds. Other Cardinals emerged at times, with Mitchell making 3s before Snider got hot from behind the arc. The Cards didn't reach 41 percent shooting until late in the game, but found their touch just in time.
"It's big when you have like 'Q' (Snider), Mangok and myself who can step up and knock down shots," said Mitchell, who rebounded from Wednesday's seven-point outing in a loss at Wake Forest. "I keep telling him to keep shooting the ball regardless of what happens and don't worry about misses. He knocked them down, and Q came up big."
Louisville's bounce-back win might preserve their Top 10 standing. Notre Dame's loss might drop the Irish a few spots, with the question being how many.
Besides Mathiang, David Levitch and graduate transfer Tony Hicks were honored before the game. Each played just a minute without scoring.
Notre Dame: ACC Tournament quarterfinals Thursday night in Brooklyn, New York.
Louisville: ACC Tournament quarterfinals Thursday afternoon in Brooklyn, New York.