SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Jeff Walz didn’t want an ugly loss last week at Florida State to prevent No. 6 Louisville from winning its fourth straight regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

His star player, reigning ACC Player of the Year Dana Evans, did her part Sunday against Notre Dame, scoring 12 of her game-high 26 points in the first quarter and finishing with five assists to lead the Cardinals to a 78-61 victory.

“I’m really proud of the way we competed,” Walz said a week after the Cardinals suffered a 68-59 setback at Florida State. “I thought that performance was embarrassing.”

The Cardinals (21-2, 14-2 ACC) prevented No. 2 North Carolina State from overtaking them for first place in the league. N.C. State won 68-61 at Syracuse earlier Sunday.

Elizabeth Dixon added 12 points for Louisville and Kianna Smith, Hailey Van Lith and Mykasa Robinson each scored 10, with Robinson taking five charges. The Cardinals will have a double bye along with N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Florida State in the upcoming ACC Tournament at Greensboro, North Carolina.

Earning the top seed in the tournament was important for Evans and the Cardinals.


“This is the standard now,” Evans said. “This is what we’re supposed to do. For us to win it four years in a row speaks volumes for coach Walz and his staff. But we know this is just a stepping stone for what comes next.”

Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey was impressed.

“I thought Louisville was fantastic and Dana Evans was like she normally is — phenomenal,” said Ivey, whose team had nine turnovers in the first quarter and trailed 28-18. Notre Dame, which trailed 44-28 at halftime, finished with 25 turnovers.

Sam Brunelle came off the bench to score 13 points and reserve Olivia Miles, playing in her fifth game after skipping her senior season at Blair Academy (New Jersey), added 11 points for the Irish (10-9, 8-7), who saw their two-game winning streak following a 15-day COVID-19 shutdown end.


Louisville: The Cardinals knew they would have to win to top N.C. State for the ACC title.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Walz said. “The regular-season title is the hardest to win. You have to be consistent from top to bottom for 8-10 weeks. To say we’ve been a part of four consecutive titles is impressive.”

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish, who gave the Cardinals all they could handle three weeks ago in a 71-65 loss at Louisville, were hoping to finish fourth in the ACC. But the 25 turnovers proved to be too much for the Irish to overcome.


“Louisville really pressured us,” said Ivey, whose team made five turnovers in first 1:56 of the game. “We didn’t start the game at our normal pace, and I felt that really frustrated us and really bothered us.”


Louisville: Plays an ACC tournament quarterfinal on Friday.

Notre Dame: The sixth-seeded Fighting Irish open play in the tournament’s second round Thursday night against No. 11 seed Clemson.


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