Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 4/9/13
LOUISVILLE, Ky. The crowd inside Cluckers, a bar and restaurant in the heart of Cardinal Towne on the University of Louisville campus, wasnt waiting for the final seconds to tick off the clock in Monday nights NCAA championship game. It had begun its celebration even though 50.1 seconds remained and Louisvilles lead over Michigan was just four points, 78-74. Well, not everyone was celebrating. Sara Hartman, Lacey Bobo and Raine Thompson, former Louisville swimmers, and former volleyball player Maci Wachtel watched intently, understanding that the game was far from over. Not until Peyton Siva made a pair of free throws with 12.9 seconds left and Michigans Trey Burke missed a 3-pointer on the other end did the quartet join in the celebration as the Cardinals won the schools first national title since 1986, 82-76. From there the crowd spilled out onto Cardinal Blvd. where authorities had blocked off the area around 3rd and 4th streets to contain the celebration. Fans chanted C-A-R-D-S... Cards!, honked horns and shot off the occasional firework in a relatively orderly manner for more than an hour. The celebration escalated, however, and police in riot gear began dispersing the crowd at 12:45 a.m. following an incident that involved an arson officer and students jumping on him. It was actually a very tame and very positive celebration up until that point, said U of L spokesman John Drees. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, there was expected to be about 200 metro police and corrections officers, Jefferson County sheriffs deputies, metro emergency-medical-services personnel and U of L police in place to handle the area celebrations. Approximately the same number was utilized Saturday night after Louisville beat Wichita St. in the national semifinals. Following last years championship by in-state rival Kentucky, Lexington police made more than 50 arrests with 60 fires reported and more than 20 people taken to hospitals in the immediate aftermath of the Wildcats victory. Authorities will be getting ready for Round 2 Tuesday night as Louisville takes on Connecticut for the womens national championship. Drees said a similar plan will be in place, although a smaller crowd is expected. The crowd inside Cluckers wasnt in a celebratory mood for most of the first half as Michigan, behind unheralded freshman guard Spike Albrechts 17 points, took a 33-21 lead with 3:54 remaining before halftime. Luke Hancock, not as unheralded but far from Louisvilles star, scored 14 straight points for the Cardinals, including four consecutive 3-pointers, in less than two minutes to re-energize his team and the fan base. Louisville never trailed the final 15:06 of the game, but neither did the Cardinals put the game away until those final Siva free throws. I think being athletes we knew, said Hartman. Everyone else was so pumped up but we knew there was so much time left. We all had our heads down. We couldnt watch; the four of us. Weve been in that situation before as athletes and we were so nervous for them. It was such an exciting game. It would have been nice if we didnt have that close of a game but being under pressure like that and having to perform is insane. What they did was absolutely amazing.
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