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College of Charleston vs Louisville

No. 3 L'ville withstands tough test to begin title defense

CBSSports.com wire reports
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The emotion of raising a national championship banner combined with replacing two key players from the team that won the title had No. 3 Louisville in a close game for 33 minutes against the College of Charleston on Saturday.

Then came the boom.

The Cardinals outscored Charleston 22-3 over the final 6:41 to pull away to a 70-48 victory in the first game of its national championship defense.

''Our quality, that 'boom' quality that we had last year came out again in the second half because we played like starving dogs,'' Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski saw it when Louisville shook off the grief of losing teammate Kevin Ware to a broken leg and ripped off a 13-2 second-half run that pushed the Cardinals to the Final Four.

''I thought we had a chance there, and then, boom,'' Krzyzewski said after the Midwest Regional final. ''That's what they do to teams.''

Louisville pulled off similar comebacks against Wichita State and Michigan to earn the school's third national title in April. They unveiled the championship banner for those efforts before Saturday's game but were shaky at the start following the ceremony that Pitino wrapped up.

''We are very much like the Green Bay Packers. We are owned by our fans,'' he said, choked up in the moment.

Preseason All-America Russ Smith led Louisville with 21 points and five assists. He said while the pregame pageantry was ''special'' it ''threw everything out of rhythm.''

''We just had to kind of kick the rust off,'' Smith said. ''I'm kind of happy we got back into playing the way we know how to play.''

That style -- pressure basketball on defense and attacking the rim on offense -- was on display as Louisville's spurt put the Cougars away late.

''It kind of just felt like last year when we kind of just boomed people,'' said Stephan Van Treese, a fifth-year senior. ''We just kept it going. It was awesome; the crowd really got into it.''

Van Treese had six points and seven rebounds, all in the second half, after picking up two fouls in the first 3:10. Freshman Mangok Mathiang added seven points and 10 rebounds in his collegiate debut.

They were the players trying to replace Gorgui Dieng, now with the Minnesota Timberwolves, at center.

''That was great play and what we need from the 5 spot,'' Pitino said. ''We need hungry hustle and they gave it to us.''

Smith's new backcourtmate Chris Jones, last season's national junior college player of the year, charged with replacing four-year starter Peyton Siva, added 12 points and five assists.

Charleston trailed 48-45 after freshman Canyon Barry hit a 17-footer with 6:55 to play. Then Smith asserted himself, hitting two free throws and driving to find forwards Montrezl Harrell and Wayne Blackshear for easy baskets that gave the Cardinals a 54-45 lead with 5:05 left. Charleston scored again with 2:42 remaining, making it 61-47 and ending a 13-0 Louisville run.

''I'm just disappointed it didn't go to the wire,'' Charleston coach Doug Wojcik said. ''I really thought we were in it. We ran in at halftime down two; that's my disappointment.''

Barry led Charleston with 10 points while Adjehi Baru added eight points and nine rebounds.

Ware, whose poise last season after his gruesome compound leg fracture turned him into Louisville's rallying point and the NCAA tournament's most memorable figure, did not play. He saw his first game action since the injury on Wednesday, 220 days after injuring his leg against Duke. He played 10 second-half minutes in an exhibition win against Pikeville, draining his first shot, a 3-pointer.

Louisville was also without Luke Hancock, the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player who scored 22 points and hit all five of his 3-pointers in the title game. He is out with an Achilles tendon injury. Forward Chane Behanan returned to practice on Friday for the first time in nearly a month but remains suspended.

Opening game jitters were evident early as the Cardinals hit just 4 of their first 17 shots before Harrell skied to slam down an alley-oop pass from Jones, giving Louisville a 15-13 lead midway through the first half. The Cardinals were outshot and outrebounded in the first half but led 29-27 at the break after Smith hit a floating jumper with 45 seconds left.

Tied at 29 with 19:13 left, Barry missed two free throws -- shot underhanded like his Hall of Fame father Rick -- that would have put the Cougars ahead before a 9-0 Louisville run made it 38-29 with 15:30 to play.

Charleston kept it close -- in contrast to last season's 80-38 scalding -- until Louisville unleashed its spurt.

Louisville shot just 38 percent from the field (26 of 68). Blackshear, who led the Cardinals with 18 points in last season's matchup, missed his first 11 shots before hitting a jumper from the right baseline with 9:04 left. He finished with 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting and six rebounds.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
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Russ Smith and the Cards lead by just two at the half before shaking off the rust to go on a 22-3 run in the last 6:41 minutes. (USATSI)
Russ Smith and the Cards lead by just two at the half before shaking off the rust to go on a 22-3 run in the last 6:41 minutes. (USATSI)
Scoreboard
College of Charleston (0-1)272148
Louisville #3 (1-0) «294170
CHARLS:C. Barry 10 Pts
CHARLS:A. Baru 9 Reb
CHARLS:A. Stitt 3 Ast
LVILLE:R. Smith 21 Pts
LVILLE:M. Mathiang 10 Reb
LVILLE:R. Smith 5 Ast

Related Video

 
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
College of CharlestonLouisville
CHARLS
Canyon Barry
LVILLE
Russ Smith
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
10312115
College of Charleston Cougars
A. Stitt, G322-92-31316
W. Hall, F273-50-04057
A. Baru, F254-40-09038
J. Chealey, G243-102-34348
C. Barry, G194-90-431410
A. Thomas, F272-60-05024
D. Wishon, C211-10-05022
J. Burroughs-Cook, G131-40-00003
T. Johnson, G-F60-00-00100
T. O'Donohue, F60-00-01010
N. Johnson, G-F10-00-00000
P. Branin, GDid Not Play
H. Bowne, FDid Not Play
J. Hall, FDid Not Play
C. Cooke, GDid Not Play
G. Pierre, Jr., F-CDid Not Play
Totals 20-484-103282248
 41.7%40.0% 
Louisville Cardinals
W. Blackshear, G-F373-144-460211
M. Harrell, F334-72-681210
R. Smith, G317-176-615221
C. Jones, G305-131-365212
S. Van Treese, F243-40-07026
M. Mathiang, F-C223-71-210007
T. Rozier, G171-60-03133
A. Gill, G30-00-20100
T. Henderson, G10-00-00000
A. Agau, F10-00-00000
D. Levitch, G10-00-00010
L. Hancock, FDid Not Play
C. Behanan, FDid Not Play
K. Ware, GDid Not Play
D. Avare, GDid Not Play
Totals 26-6814-2341131470
 38.2%60.9% 
Colonial Athletic
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Hofstra0-08-4189
Northeastern0-07-497
Elon0-08-5162
Will. & Mary0-06-4113
J. Madison0-07-5153
Towson0-07-5212
UNC-Wilm.0-05-5116
Charleston0-05-7186
Drexel0-02-9185
Delaware0-00-10342

ACC
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Notre Dame1-012-199
N.C. State1-010-354
Virginia0-011-04
Duke0-010-06
Louisville0-011-123
Miami (Fla.)0-09-377
N. Carolina0-09-316
Pittsburgh0-09-379
Georgia Tech0-08-341
Syracuse0-08-482
Va. Tech0-08-4266
Clemson0-07-4158
Boston College0-06-4163
Florida St.0-17-5178
Wake Forest0-17-6200
 
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MORG 50 Final
OHST 89
EMPOR 50 Final
WICH 93
BRY 76 Final
GONZ 100
AAMU 52 Final
NMEX 88