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Big East Tournament 2012: Notre Dame Beats South Florida 57-53 In OT

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NOTRE DAME SOUTH FLORIDA
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Scott Martin #14 and Eric Atkins #0 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish react in overtime after Atkins made a three point basket against the South Florida Bulls during the quarterfinals of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images) | Getty

NEW YORK -- Eric Atkins scored all six of his points in overtime and No. 23 Notre Dame beat South Florida 57-53 on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.

The third-seeded Fighting Irish (22-10) will play seventh-seeded Louisville in the semifinals on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The Cardinals (24-9) beat second-seeded and ninth-ranked Marquette 84-71.

It will be a rematch of last year's semifinal that saw Louisville advance to the championship game, where it lost to Connecticut.

Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant both had 12 points for Notre Dame, which will be making its fifth semifinal appearance but has never made it to the title game.

Victor Rudd Jr. had 16 points for the sixth-seeded Bulls (20-13), who advanced to the quarterfinals with a win over Villanova, the farthest they have ever gone in the conference tournament.

The game was expected to be a defensive and it lived up to the billing. The teams combined for a total of seven points over the final 6 minutes of regulation. They picked the pace up in the 5-minute overtime with Notre Dame outscoring the Bulls 12-8.

Anthony Collins, who finished with 13 points and seven assists, gave South Florida a 45-42 lead with 2:44 left in regulation when he scored on a drive to the basket.

Grant made two free throws with 38 seconds left to bring the Fighting Irish within a point. It appeared South Florida would put the game away when Jawanza Poland took a long inbounds pass but he missed a layup. He was able to corral the loose ball and was fouled with 30 seconds left only to miss the front end of a 1-and-1.

Connaughton made the first of two free throws with 28 seconds left to tie it. Collins drove the lane but lost the ball. In the ensuing scramble a jump ball was called with 0.6 seconds left and the possession arrow belonged to South Florida. The Bulls inbounded the ball under the basket but a lob was knocked away at the buzzer.

Connaughton made two free throws with 3:53 left in overtime to give Notre Dame the lead for good at 49-48. The Irish extended the lead to 54-50 on a 3 by Atkins with 29 seconds to go.

After a turnover by each team, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick hit a 3 for South Florida with 2.5 seconds left. Atkins made one of two free throws with 1.6 seconds left and after another Bulls turnover, Connaughton made two free throws with one-tenth of a second left for the final margin.

This was the 10th straight game South Florida held an opponent under 60 points. The Bulls set a conference record this season by allowing 56.9 points per game.

South Florida made eight of its first 10 shots from the field – including 4 of 5 3-point attempts – and took a 20-8 lead on a 3-pointer by Collins. The Bulls then went stone cold, missing their next nine shots as the Fighting Irish went on an 18-0 run to go up 26-20 with 3:54 left in the half. Notre Dame led 28-26 at halftime.

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