Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Louisville 61, Seton Hall 55
By Kieran Darcy
Overview: Seton Hall will have to sweat it out until Selection Sunday.
The Pirates had a chance to put themselves on much firmer ground with their second win in two nights here at the Big East tournament. Instead, the No. 10 seed fell to No. 7-seeded Louisville, 61-55, and will be on pins and needles for the next four days, with a record of 20-12, 8-10 in the conference.
Louisville (23-9, 10-8 Big East) can already rest assured that it will be in the NCAA tournament field of 68. But now the Cardinals will play in the Big East quarterfinals, and snap their two-game losing streak to end the regular season.
Turning point: Both teams were inept on offense in the first half. Louisville shot 27.6 percent from the field, Seton Hall 25 percent, and the Cardinals led 23-22 at intermission.
Seton Hall remained cold in the second half, but Louisville started to knock down shots. The Cardinals opened up on a 16-4 run to make it 39-26, and the key sequence of the game came at the end of that stretch. With the score 34-26, Peyton Siva intercepted a Herb Pope inbounds pass and went in for a slam on the other end. On the very next possession, Seton Hall turned it over again, and Siva made them pay again with a 3-pointer. Suddenly the Cardinals were up 13.
The Pirates rallied late, and cut the deficit to five on three different occasions -- but the Cardinals answered each and every time with a bucket. Then in the final minute, Jordan Theodore hit a trey to cut the lead to 59-55 -- and then at 60-55 he had a pair of decent looks from downtown to cut it to two, but both were off the mark.
Key player: Siva was all over the floor, and in the middle of the key sequences mentioned above -- he also led the Cardinals with 14 points. But the man with the biggest presence in this game was Gorgui Dieng. Louisville's 6-foot-11 center scored just six points, but had 10 rebounds and six blocked shots -- plus many more intimidations. He was the biggest force in the game.
Pope had 11 points and 15 rebounds for Seton Hall. Theodore had 17 points.
Miscellaneous: The shooting numbers tell the story. Seton Hall was 17-for-52 from the field (32.7 percent) and 3-for-19 (15.8 percent) from 3-point range. Louisville wasn't a whole lot better, but the Pirates had to shoot better, particularly from beyond the arc, to win this game. ... Turnovers also really hurt the Hall. The Pirates had 17, to just nine for the Cardinals. ... Louisville is a poor free throw shooting team, and it could cost them in a big spot in March. The Cardinals were just 17-for-30 (56.7 percent) from the charity stripe tonight.
What's next: Louisville will face No. 2 seed Marquette in a Big East quarterfinal on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.
Seton Hall's fate is the hands of the selection committee. And its fans will spend the next 93 hours or so monitoring every media bracket projection they can find.