Cardinals rip Washington

Posted: Friday, March 25, 2005

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. : Rick Pitino pushed all the right buttons, while Francisco Garcia and Taquan Dean made all the tough shots.

The result for Louisville was a 93-79 victory over top-seeded Washington : a win that put the Cardinals in the Albuquerque Regional final and turned their insulting fourth seed into little more than an afterthought.

''Um, that's not something we think about,'' forward Larry O'Bannon said. ''Coach tells us, 'You've got to go out there and play the game,' so we just go out there and play.''

Taking advantage of Pitino's instruction to penetrate, then kick the ball out, Garcia and Dean hit five 3-pointers apiece. The Cardinals (32-4) finished with 11 total, and improved to 24-1 this season when they make at least seven from long range.

''You wonder what it would've been like if they hadn't been making all the 3s,'' Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. ''But they've won 31 other times this year. I'm sure there are 31 other teams who have said that.''

The Cardinals moved on to Saturday's regional final against West Virginia, which beat Bobby Knight and Texas Tech 65-60.

This was billed as a matchup between Washington (29-5), the team trying to prove it really did deserve a top seed, and Louisville, the team that had lost only once since Jan. 8 and couldn't believe it was only a No. 4.

Garcia, who finished with 23 points, made three 3-pointers and had an assist as part of a 21-5 run to close the first half and help Louisville to a 47-35 lead.

Meanwhile, Washington's top two scorers, Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons, struggled to defend against Pitino's inside-outside offense and wound up languishing on the bench with three fouls for a big chunk of the first half.

Robinson picked up his third at the 8:51 mark and Simmons picked up his third with 3:50 left.

''It was weird,'' Washington guard Brandon Roy said. ''I was playing, kind of going through the motions, I looked at coach and said, 'Why isn't Nate in there?' He said Nate had three fouls. It was kind of disappointing.''

The teams traded buckets through much of the second half, and things got chippy when O'Bannon (18 points) went down in a heap with Jamaal Williams and Bobby Jones of Washington. O'Bannon appeared to tap Williams with his foot while Williams was down and the Huskies got angry.

Robinson responded with a steal and dunk : his only field goal of the night : and Hakeen Rollins made back-to-back baskets to pull Washington within 67-61.

But less than two minutes later, Garcia hit his fifth 3-pointer to make it 76-65 and the Cardinals never let the lead fall below double digits.

''Coach said when I'm open, please shoot the ball,'' Garcia said. ''I saw a couple of open shots and I took them.''

Juan Palacios shot 6-for-11 for 14 points and Ellis Myles had eight points and 13 boards to help Louisville finish with an 11-rebound advantage in the battle between two teams, neither known much for their inside presence.

Robinson finished with eight points : 0-for-5 from 3-point range : and Simmons went 3-for-6 for 10 points.

The guards, each averaging more than 16 points this season, struggled mightily in the second half, unable to shake the effects of sitting on the bench for such a long time earlier. Williams finished with 18 points, Roy had 15 and Will Conroy had 14 points and eight assists to keep the Huskies within reach.

Illinois 77, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 63

ROSEMONT, Ill. : It's tough enough stopping one of Illinois' standout guards. When Dee Brown and Deron Williams are both playing well, that's just not a fair fight.

Williams and Brown gave upstart Wisconsin-Milwaukee all it could handle and then some Thursday night, combining for 42 points, 10 assists and some nasty defense to lead Illinois to a spot in the Chicago Regional finals.

Williams had 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting and eight assists. Brown scored 15 of his 21 from 3-point range, and had two assists and two steals. Roger Powell Jr. and Luther Head added 12 each, and James Augustine finished with 11.

The top-seeded Illini (35-1) will play Arizona on Saturday for a chance to go to their first Final Four since 1989.

Joah Tucker led UWM (26-6) with a career-high 32 points, but he was essentially a one-man offense. UWM shot 39 percent, and leading scorer Ed McCants was 4-of-17 overall for 13 points. Illinois forced the 12th-seeded Panthers into 12 turnovers while committing only nine.

The victory was some payback for Illinois fans, who still harbor a grudge against UWM coach Bruce Pearl for the role he played in a recruiting scandal some 15 years ago. Pearl gave the NCAA a tape of a secretly recorded phone call in 1989, touching off a 16-month investigation. Illinois was cleared of the most serious violations, but had to skip the 1991 postseason.

Arizona 79, Oklahoma State 78

ROSEMONT, Ill. : Give the ball to Salim Stoudamire and get out of his way. That's what Arizona did Thursday night.

Stoudamire hit an off-balance jumper from the left side with 2.8 seconds left, sending Arizona within one win of the Final Four.

When John Lucas' last-ditch attempt went off the rim at the buzzer, the Wildcats had another memorable victory under coach Lute Olson. Arizona (30-6) will meet top-seeded Illinois on Saturday for a trip to St. Louis.

Joey Graham, who led Oklahoma State (26-7) with 26 points, drove to the middle, lowered his shoulder and dropped in a short shot from the lane to give OSU a 78-77 lead with 18.8 seconds left.

After a timeout, Stoudamire waved his hand to clear out the floor and then maneuvered past Daniel Bobik and popped in a jumper from the left side, putting the Wildcats up 79-78 with 2.8 seconds left.

Stoudamire and Hassan Adams finished with 19 points each.

West Virginia 65, Texas Tech 60

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. : The last time West Virginia went this far in the NCAA tournament, Jerry West was a Mountaineer.

Kevin Pittsnogle and his unheralded teammates spoiled Bobby Knight's return to the round of 16, beating Texas Tech to move within one win of a surprising trip to the Final Four

Pittsnogle scored 22 points, including a pair of clutch free throws with 17.2 seconds left to send the seventh-seeded Mountaineers (24-10) to Saturday's regional final against Rick Pitino's fourth-seeded Louisville Cardinals (32-4).

The Mountaineers led 62-55 with 3:54 left after Pittsnogle hit a pair of free throws, then held on despite not scoring a field goal the rest of the game.

West Virginia, a former bubble team and No. 8 seed in the Big East tournament, added another dramatic win to its best run in the NCAA tournament since 1959, when West and the Mountaineers lost in the national title game.

Pittsnogle carried the Mountaineers down the stretch. His 3-pointer with 6:10 left put West Virginia ahead to stay at 56-53.

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