LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Sonia Citron scored 27 points, including four key free throws in the final 1:20, and No. 10 Notre Dame overcame the loss to star guard Olivia Miles to a knee injury to beat Louisville 68-65 on Sunday and clinch the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title.
Miles, who leads the Irish with 14.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 2.1 steals per game, was hurt with 2:35 remaining before halftime while diving for a loose ball. The sophomore became emotional and pounded the floor while being examined by medical personnel. Miles was able to flex her knee and eventually limped off the floor without assistance to applause as she made her way to the locker room.
She returned to the bench in the third quarter with the knee wrapped in ice and eventually a bandage. Miles then watched Notre Dame (24-4, 15-3 ACC) rally from a 33-24 halftime deficit and take the lead for good in the fourth quarter.
KK Bransford’s layup got the Irish within 53-52 before Citron and Cassandre Prosper followed with five consecutive free throws to lead by four. Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith made two free throws, but Citron’s 3-pointer made it 60-55 and maintained that edge as the Cardinals missed two of four from the line.
Citron made two more from the line with 43.3 seconds left to make it 66-61 but missed two after Mykasa Robinson’s layup to open the door for the Cardinals (21-10, 12-6). Van Lith’s left-corner 3-pointer missed, Prosper was fouled on the defensive rebound and then made two with six seconds left to seal it.
Citron made 10 of 14 free throws and 7 of 13 shots with three 3s as the Irish won their sixth in a row and swept Louisville.
Van Lith made 10 of 12 free throws to finish with 23 for Louisville, which closed the final 2:51 without a field goal.
Notre Dame: Duke’s loss to North Carolina opened the door for the Irish and they took advantage to gain the No. 1 seed for the ACC Tournament. That wasn’t easy considering Miles was sitting on the bench with injury.
Louisville: The Cardinals’ loss spoiled the home finales for seniors Morgan Jones, Chrislyn Carr, Norika Konno, Liz Dixon, Josie Williams and Mykasa Robinson.
ACC Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25