Louisville 62, West Virginia 59

  • March 07, 2009 11:50 PM
  • |
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
March 7, 2009

#6 louisville 62, West Virginia 59
WVU Coliseum
Morgantown, W.va.
Louisville 32 30 62
West Virginia 29 30 59
Stat Comparison
FG Made-Att 21-48 23-57
FG Percentage 43.8% 40.4%
3P Made-Att 9-17 2-12
3P Percentage 52.9% 16.7%
FT Made-Att 11-17 11-15
FT Percentage 64.7% 73.3%
Rebounds 27 40
Turnovers 11 12
Top WVU Players
Top Scorer
Top Scorer
Kevin Jones
19 Points
Devin Ebanks
16 Points

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Terrence Williams scored 20 points to lead sixth-ranked Louisville to a 62-59 victory over West Virginia Saturday night at the WVU Coliseum.

"He played great and that's what great players do," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said of Williams. "The reality is they have three seniors that are all very good and they have another guy who is a junior who is very good.

"They have got four guys that are probably not going to be there next year and we are playing three freshmen in our top six," Huggins said.

Louisville’s win, coupled with a Connecticut loss earlier today at Pittsburgh, gives the Cardinals the outright Big East regular season title with a 16-2 record.

Louisville (25-5) led by as many as 10, 29-19, with 4:03 left in the first half on a Williams 3. Then West Virginia ran off 10 straight points to tie it with 39 seconds left after Wellington Smith hit a baseline runner.

Williams’ 3 from the top of the key gave Louisville a 32-29 halftime lead.

The two teams spent most of the second half trading leads. The Cardinals were up 33-29 and then 38-34 before another Smith 3 pulled the Mountaineers to within one. A three-point play by Da’Sean Butler gave West Virginia back the lead at 41-40 with 12:56 left.

The Mountaineers led 45-42 after a pair of Devin Ebanks free throws, but two WVU turnovers and a missed Ebanks layup led to six straight Louisville points.

"Sometimes (the press) can give you three or four spurts and sometimes with West Virginia they only give you one spurt," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We got that one spurt that just turned the game around for us."

Once again West Virginia fought back to tie it at 48 on two Smith free throws, but Sosa answered with a 3 with 8:55 left to put the Cardinals back on top 51-48. A Butler jumper with 7:06 remaining gave the Mountaineers a 52-51 lead, and they led 54-52 following an Ebanks basket at 5:25.

Then West Virginia hit a critical stretch in the game with 4 ½ minutes to go when Earl Clark converted a 3 to put UofL up one, 55-54, and two Ruoff turnovers led to a Louisville basket and a free throw to give the Cardinals a four-point advantage.

"We talked for two days about not throwing it to them for baskets and when the game got separated a little bit, that's what we did - we threw it to them for baskets," Huggins said.

Two Ebanks free throws pulled WVU to within two, 58-56, with 2:33 remaining. A Ruoff steal gave the Mountaineers an opportunity to either tie or go ahead with 1:32 left, but the senior’s 3-point try at the top of the key hit the back of the rim. After a Louisville 30-second timeout, Jerry Smith knocked down a huge jumper to give the Cardinals a four-point lead with 59 seconds left.

Kevin Jones’ layup cut the lead to two, 60-58, and West Virginia had one final opportunity to tie the game, trailing 62-59, but Butler missed a 3-point attempt from the top of the key racing down the floor after Williams bricked a pair of free throws that could have iced the game.

Freshmen Ebanks and Jones kept West Virginia in the game when the Mountaineers’ two key players Ruoff and Butler were struggling. Jones finished with a season-high 19 points and Ebanks had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

"We're asking Devin Ebanks to play the point ... small forward," Huggins said. "He's our leading rebounder. I mean there will be a day here in a few years when we have all the seniors."

Ruoff, playing his last regular season home game at the Coliseum, sat out a good portion of the contest with four fouls and finished 0 for 4 from the floor with six turnovers in 22 minutes of action.

"What am I going to tell him?" Huggins said of Ruoff's disappointing senior night. "He knows I love him and he knows how proud I am of him. We're not done. We're a long way from being done."

Butler also had a rough night, hitting just 4 of 17 shot attempts for 10 points. Butler did grab 10 boards.

"Our game plan tonight was to smother the 3-point line," Pitino said. "Even when they came up at halfcourt we were dogging the guy. We did give up a lot of offensive rebounds because of the strategy, but it stopped them from making 3s."

Clark added 13 for the Cardinals.

Louisville will be the No. 1 overall seed in the Big East Tournament, which begins Tuesday night in New York City. West Virginia was locked into seventh place in the conference standings regardless of tonight’s outcome because Syracuse beat Marquette earlier today in overtime.

The Mountaineers will begin Big East Tournament action Wednesday night, facing the Rutgers-Notre Dame winner.