Call it the Luck of the Irish or whatever, but there has to be something in the air in South Bend in the shadows of Touchdown Jesus.
There has to be when you consider what I’ve witnessed on the campus of Notre Dame over the past six months.
First was the improbable goal-line stand in overtime against Stanford in October.
Then came the triple overtime win over Pittsburgh, a game the Fighting Irish had no business winning, but did.
Fast forward to Saturday and what transpired in Purcell Pavilion was nothing like anything I’ve ever witnessed. That’s saying a lot when you consider I’ve covered too many college basketball games to count during my professional career.
No. 25 Notre Dame’s 104-101 unbelievable victory over 11th-ranked Louisville in five overtimes will go down as one of the most incredible basketball finishes at any level.
The Fighting Irish were left for dead and should’ve been down seven with 1:14 left in regulation. And with leading scorer Jack Cooley having fouled out, Notre Dame was finished, right? Wrong.
Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant turned into LeBron James. He hit three three-pointers (his only triples all night) in the final 45 seconds.
Grant’s performance was all-world worthy. Get this, he scored 12 points in the final 44 seconds of regulation. Actually Grant scored on four straight possessions in a span of time that took 23 seconds (44 seconds to 21 seconds). Think about that for a minute!
Grant’s final three points in that torrid stretch came when he scored on a layup and was fouled. When Grant converted the traditional three-point play, the game was tied at 60.
By the time the game ended, three of Notre Dame’s starters had fouled out, but the Fighting Irish still somehow, someway found a way to win. Unlikely heroes like Grant and Garrick Sherman, who did his best Shaquille O’Neal impersonation in the overtimes as he was unstoppable in the paint finished with 17 points in 21 minutes, came to the rescue.
In so doing, they put on the classic of classics which even left Dick Vitale speechless. Now that’s really quite a feat.
Vitale wasn’t the only one at a loss for words to try and describe what he witnessed Saturday night.
Nearly 48 hours removed from the game, I still can’t believe what transpired and probably never will.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.