Louisville escapes pesky Davidson

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 15, 2012
Louisville is finally moving on in the NCAA tournament. Peyton Siva scored 17 points and the fourth-seeded Cardinals beat Davidson 69-62 on Thursday for their first tournament victory since 2009. After getting ousted in their opening game the past two seasons, coach Rick Pitino and the Cardinals (27-9) advanced to the third round of the West Regional. Louisville, coming off a surprising run to the Big East tournament title, is making its sixth straight appearance in the NCAAs. Siva, who had plenty of local support at the Rose Garden from his hometown of Seattle, added six assists. Chane Behanan had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Cardinals, who led by as many as 14. Jake Cohen had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Davidson (25-8), which was making its 11th tournament appearance and first since 2008, when Stephen Curry led the underdog Wildcats to the round of eight. The Cardinals will play Saturday against the winner of Thursday's game between New Mexico and Long Beach State. A fan in the crowd held a sign proclaiming ''Peytonvul,'' a play on the preferred pronunciation of Louisville. The junior point guard went to Franklin High School in Seattle, about a 3-hour drive north of Portland. The Cardinals jumped out to the early lead but Nic Cochran hit a 3-pointer to give Davidson a short-lived 13-12 advantage. Kyle Kuric's layup put Louisville quickly back in front. Louisville's 6-foot-11 center, Gorgui Dieng, got into foul trouble, picking up three midway through the first half. But the Cardinals began to inch away, pulling ahead 20-16 after Behanan's layup and Kuric's jumper. Davidson fought off Louisville's defensive pressure and narrowed it to 26-24 on 6-foot-10 junior Cohen's turnaround jumper with 3:20 left in the half. But the Cardinals slowed down the up-tempo Wildcats and went up 31-25 after Russ Smith's 3-pointer with 1:09 left. Cochran made a free throw before Elisha Justice's layup with 21 seconds left that made it 33-25 at the break. Siva opened the second half with a dunk to stretch the Cardinals' lead to 10 points, their biggest margin to that point. His jumper with 14:20 left extended the lead to 43-31. Behanan's layup put Louisville up 58-44 with 3:37 left. Davidson got to within 59-51 when Chris Czerapowicz made a 3-pointer with 1:57 left. Cochran made three straight free throws to make it 67-60 with 22.6 seconds left. Tyler Kalinoski's layup got the Wildcats within 67-62, but time ran out for Davidson. The Cardinals were ranked as high as No. 4 earlier this season, but a spate of injuries and a stretch with five losses in seven games dropped them out of the rankings. They limped into the Big East tournament with losses in three of their four final games. But they rolled through the conference tournament with four wins in four days, beating Seton Hall, Marquette, Notre Dame and, finally, Cincinnati in the championship game for momentum going into the tournament. Siva was the tournament MVP, averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Averaging 68 points per game, the Cardinals are more known for their defense. They've limited opponents to an average of 38 percent shooting from the floor, and an average of just over 61 points per game. Louisville limited Davidson to 35 percent from the floor (21 for 60). Davidson got a tournament berth this year with a dramatic, double-overtime victory over Western Carolina last Friday in the championship game of the Southern Conference tournament. The Wildcats led by 12 with 2 minutes left in regulation but needed two overtimes to put it away. Louisville won NCAA championships in 1980 and 1986.
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