Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Final: Cincinnati 69, Louisville 66
By Dana O'Neil
NEW YORK -- They finally erased the chalk here. After a day's worth of the favorites advancing at the Big East tournament, Cincinnati finally added a little underdog energy to the Garden in the nightcap.
Riding a ferocious effort on the offensive glass, the 11th-seeded Bearcats sent Louisville, the defending Big East tourney champs packing after just a night's stay.
The win doesn't change the Bearcats' NCAA hopes. They're a long way from being in. But hope keeps breathing for another day.
And the reason Cincinnati is alive is because it absolutely pounded the glass. They pulled down a ridiculous 20 offensive rebounds, extending their possessions and frustrating Louisville... not to mention torturing Rick Pitino. Fueled by the work on the boards, the Bearcats chipped away at what otherwise would have been a more commanding nine-point Cardinal halftime lead. Once the Bearcats got the edge, they outworked and outhustled Louisville on virtually every possession.
The Cardinals are still in the NCAA tournament. The win against Syracuse in the swan song at Freedom Hall guaranteed that. But the Cards -- who will at least give injured Jerry Smith time to rest with their early flight home -- had better regroup quickly if they don't want their NCAA visit to be equally brief.