Wichita State did everything right for nearly 30 minutes, building a second-half lead and putting itself in position to become the lowest-seeded team ever to play for a national title.
Over the final 10 minutes, mighty Louisville started to play like Louisville, and the ninth-seeded Shockers' feel-good story started to slowly slip away.
After going more than 25 minutes without a turnover, they started to mount against the Cardinals' frustrating full-court press. The missed shots, each one sounding like a canon blast as it clanked off the rim, became more numerous for Wichita State, and a jump ball with eight seconds left and the Shockers trailing by three kept them from having a chance at forcing overtime.
Instead, Russ Smith went back to the free-throw line and made the only foul shot he needed, and Louisville hung on for a 72-68 victory Saturday night that sent the Shockers home from their first Final Four trip since 1965 with a bitter taste after an otherwise sweet ride.