One interesting stat was that only two Louisville starters scored in the first half so that would have to change. So Chane Behanan did just that for Louisville’s first score of the second half. He finished with 10 in the game.
Conversely, the Shockers came out on fire, getting to the rim inside and scoring from outside as well. That had the Cards on their heels which is a spot they hadn’t been in all tourney long.
With the team reeling, you had to wonder if they’d spent all their emotions during the week. Coach P knows how to manage that, but did it work? When WSU went up by 12 you had to also wonder who would step up and get the Cards playing like Cards.
Gorgui Dieng picked up his fourth foul with 12:28 on the clock. That meant Ware’s best friend Behanan needed to be good to help out Stephan Van Treese. Tim Henderson, the walk-on guard that had to play the minutes Ware couldn’t, did his part by knocking down successive triples. Would that turn the tide?
Then Hancock found a way to get inside with relative ease when he took over the ball handling duties with Siva on the bench. They closed to within 3 with 9:30 to go by using the Luke and Tim show. Now they just had to slow down Wichita State on the defensive end. The Shockers kept putting down long bombs at a pace more than their normal shooting pace. And they were nearly always money from the free throw line.
But in the last minute of the game, Hancock showed why he’s a captain on the team with a three pointer and a lay up. He finished with 20 points in the game. That’s just one point off Smith’s 21 who led all Cardinal scorers.
The Shockers kept playing til the end and they got some putbacks. They fouled Louisville in that last 60 seconds and, while the Cards didn’t knock down every free throw, they put in just enough to come out with the win.
Louisville returns to the Georgia Dome on Monday to play for the national championship against the winner of the Syracuse-Michigan game.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton
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