New York, NY – Eric Atkins scored all six of his points in 53, in Thursday's Big East Tournament quarterfinal matchup.
The Irish (22-10), who were playing their first game in the tournament after receiving a double bye, defeated South Florida for the seventh straight time. They will face Louisville on Friday in a rematch of last year's semifinal, which the Cardinals won in overtime.
Jerian Grant had 12 points and six assists in Thursday's victory while Pat Connaughton also scored 12 and made the tying free throw with 26 seconds left in regulation.
The Bulls (20-13) were paced by Victor Rudd's 16 points and seven rebounds while Anthony Collins chipped in 13 points and seven assists. They defeated Villanova on Wednesday and were up, 45-42, on Thursday with less than a minute left in regulation, but were unable to secure the win.
South Florida was up 45-42 in the final minute of regulation before Grant stole the ball from Rudd and drew a foul in the process. He made both free throws to pull Notre Dame within one, 45-44, with 39 seconds left.
A wild sequence then ensued for USF's Jawanza Poland.
He received a pass behind the Notre Dame defense but missed an open layup before grabbing his own rebound and drawing the foul. He then was off on the front end of a 1-and-1 and fouled Connaughton after Notre Dame grabbed the rebound.
Connaughton made the first free throw, tying it at 45, but missed the second. South Florida held for the final shot, but Collins lost the ball after driving into the paint. The Bulls were awarded possession after a tie up, but a lob at the buzzer was unsuccessful.
Atkins opened overtime with a layup and later nailed a three from the top of the key to put Notre Dame up, 54-50, with 35 seconds left.
Rudd was then blocked on the other end and the ball fell to Notre Dame's Scott Martin, who quickly turned it over, resulting in Toarlyn Fitzpatrick's three- pointer with five seconds to play.
The Irish, though, made three foul shots the rest of the way, getting one from Atkins and two from Connaughton to seal the win.
South Florida had started strong, opening with a 20-8 push before the Irish countered with 18 straight to go on top, 26-20, on Martin's jumper.
Notre Dame was up 28-26 at the break but Augustus Gilchrist's three-pointer put the Bulls up, 31-30, early in the second and triggered the back-and-forth finish.
The teams had never met previously in the Big East Tournament...Notre Dame improved to 9-16 all-time in the tournament...South Florida was attempting to win two games in the tournament for the first time in program history...Louisville downed No. 9 Marquette earlier Thursday.