(12) Villanova 55, (1) Louisville 69

Game Rating:
Average Rating:
84.5% like this game (1135 votes)
1 2 T
#12 VILL (26-7) 34 21 55
#1 UL (27-5) 26 43 69


7:00 PM ET, March 13, 2009
Madison Square Garden
New York, NY

No. 5 Louisville on maiden voyage to Big East tournament final

Louisville Moving On To Big East Finals
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Photo Wire

Syracuse's Jonny Flynn (10) reacts after his teammate Eric Devendorf gets possession of the ball during the overtime period of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big East conference tournament Friday, March 13, 2009, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Syracuse won the game 74-69. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

· View photo | View gallery
Team Stat Comparison
Points 55 69
FG Made-Attempted 18-52 (.346) 25-59 (.424)
3P Made-Attempted 6-17 (.353) 13-28 (.464)
FT Made-Attempted 13-17 (.765) 6-12 (.500)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 14 (0/0) 14 (0/0)
Largest Lead 10 14
Game Leaders
PointsD. Cunningham 14E. Clark 17
ReboundsD. Cunningham 9T. Williams 11
AssistsS. Reynolds 3T. Williams 6
StealsS. Reynolds 4E. Clark 4
BlocksD. Anderson 1T. Jennings 3
 · Team Stats: Villanova | Louisville
Game Flow
2008-09 Season
Jan 10, 2009 UL 61, @VILL 60Recap | Box Score
· Mar 13, 2009 @UL 69, VILL 55Recap | Box Score
Next 5 Games
03/19 AMER 7:20pm
03/14 SYR 9:00pm
03/20 null 11:59pm
 · Complete Schedule: Villanova | Louisville
Big East Conference Standings
#2 Pittsburgh15-328-4
#5 Louisville16-228-5
#4 Connecticut15-327-4
#13 Villanova13-526-7
#20 Syracuse11-726-9
#21 Marquette12-624-9
West Virginia10-823-11
Notre Dame8-1018-14
Seton Hall7-1117-15
St. John's6-1216-17
South Florida4-149-22
 · View expanded standings
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Rick Pitino was speechless for the first time all year.

The smooth-talking Louisville coach stood in the locker room at halftime Friday night and was beginning to wonder where his team had gone, the one that had won eight straight games and had so emphatically captured the regular-season Big East title.

Fast Facts

• After trailing at the half by eight, Louisville outscored Villanova 43-21.

• Louisville's tale of two halves: Points, 26-43; FG percentage, 30.8-51.5; 3-point FG percentage, 38.5-53.3; turnovers, 11-4.

• Scottie Reynolds struggled in the loss for Villanova, scoring a season-low two points.

-- ESPN research

"I don't recognize any of you. I don't know who you are," Pitino told his guys. "That's not Earl Clark, that's not Terrence Williams, that's not Jerry Smith. I don't know who you guys are. Everything we've done to become a good basketball team you totally changed in a 20-minute half."

The fifth-ranked Cardinals ramped up the pressure in the second half, putting together two big runs to beat Villanova 69-55 in the Big East tournament semifinals.

They'll play either Syracuse (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) for their first conference tournament title since 2005, when the school was still a member of Conference USA.

"I think our guys recognized what they were doing wrong," Pitino said. "The good thing about these guys is when you say something, when they know you're right, they step up and admit what they were doing is wrong -- and they stepped up and played great team basketball."

Clark finished with 17 points and Smith added 16 for Louisville (27-5), which snapped out of a funk from beyond the arc by hitting 13 3-pointers in winning its ninth straight game.

The Cardinals wound up shooting 51.5 percent from the field in the second half, and hit eight of 13 3-pointers over the final 20 minutes. That after they were just 3-of-19 from beyond the arc against Providence in the tournament quarterfinals.

"In the past couple years, together with this group, we haven't had a lot of success in the Garden," Smith said. "For us to get to the championship of the Big East tournament, that's saying a lot for us and what we've overcome."

Meanwhile, it was just another disappointing tournament for Villanova (26-7), which still hasn't won consecutive games here since 2004 and hasn't reach the tournament championship since 1997.

Dante Cunningham and Corey Fisher scored 14 each to lead the Wildcats (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP), but they couldn't solve the intense full-court pressure that Pitino slapped on them coming out of halftime.

They wound up turning the ball over 23 times, and six of them were by veteran guard Scottie Reynolds, who went 1-for-6 from the field and missed all three of his 3-point attempts in finishing with just two points in 38 minutes.

"They really did a great job on him," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "They're the best defensive team in the country. On a night like that when they're going to put so much pressure on Scottie, our other guys have to step up, because there were opportunities for other guys. We just didn't do it."

In the only other meeting between the two schools this season, Williams' driving layup with 7.4 seconds left boosted Louisville to a 61-60 win on the road.

That victory proved to be a tremendous momentum-builder for the Cardinals, who'd been struggling to find their identity in early January. They returned home to beat then-No. 13 Notre Dame and topple then-No. 1 Pittsburgh, before beating highly ranked Syracuse the following week.

Suddenly, Pitino's club was a trendy pick to go deep in the NCAA tournament.

It didn't look much like that dominating team in the first half, though, when Cunningham scored at will inside and Villanova slowly built a modest lead.

Louisville still trailed 34-26 at halftime before Andre McGee hit the first of his three 3-pointers less than a minute out of the break, and Smith added another a few seconds later to close the gap.

Reynolds committed two of his turnovers on back-to-back possessions, and after Cunningham briefly slowed the Cardinals' momentum with a basket inside, Smith hit another 3 and a few minutes later buried yet another from in front of the Louisville bench.

He emphatically punched the air as he strutted out near midcourt, capping a 17-2 run that turned Louisville's halftime deficit into a 43-36 lead with 15:14 to go.

The Wildcats, coming off a last-second 76-75 victory over No. 21 Marquette a day earlier, managed to tie it at 50 when Dwayne Anderson scored with just over 8 minutes left.

But the Cardinals had an answer once more: McGee buried another 3-pointer that trigged a 10-0 run to put Louisville ahead for good.

"We knew this was going to be tough when you're playing the Big East champions," Wright said. "I love how they play. So, we got to get over this one, there's no question. This one is tough, really tough because now you're running out of chances.

"I told the guys, we'll never have a chance at -- they'll never have a chance at this again, these seniors being in the Garden, and a chance to win the Big East championship. This one hurts, but we always get over them. I don't want to say it's going to be easy."

Men's Basketball Scores

Other Scores:

Friday, March 13th
12 Villanova 55 Final
1 Louisville 69
Houston 49 Final
2 Memphis 74
Virginia Tech 76 Final
3 North Carolina 79
Boston College 65 Final
5 Duke 66
Minnesota 56 Final
7 Michigan State 64
Oklahoma State 59 Final
9 Missouri 67
Maryland 75 Final
11 Wake Forest 64
19 Arizona State 75 Final
14 Washington 65
West Virginia 69 Final
15 Syracuse 74 OT
Georgia Tech 62 Final
16 Florida State 64
USC 65 Final
17 UCLA 55
Penn State 65 Final
18 Purdue 79
Kentucky 58 Final
20 LSU 67
Temple 55 Final
22 Xavier 53
New Mexico State 70 Final
25 Utah State 71