Quentin Snider to the rescue for Cards

SEATTLE - University of Louisville freshman Quentin Snider saved the Cardinals from a first-round NCAA Tournament loss on Friday. Snider had a career-high 16 points and hit the game-winning free throws with 8.6 seconds left in a 57-55 win over UC-Irvine.

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino said even before Chris Jones was dismissed from the team that Quentin Snider was ready to play for the Cardinals.

Sure, the freshman point guard needed to work on his defense but Pitino said in January that Snider would "be fine if we have to put him in there."

Snider has been more than fine.

The 6-foot-1 former Kentucky Mr. Basketball has started seven of the past eight games - five in a row since Jones was dismissed - and on Friday lifted the Cardinals to a victory. He had a career-high 16 points and hit the game-wining free throws with 8.6 seconds left to give the Cardinals a 57-55 win over UC-Irvine.

"I'm very proud of him," U of L coach Rick Pitino said. "He was thrown into a difficult situation, but he makes our guys better. He gets into the lane and doesn't have any fear at all. He's doing some real good things."

Snider, who missed key free throws in high school as a junior and senior, was 6 of 11 from the field and had five rebounds and two assists.

His two free throws make him 18 of 29 on the season.

"Nobody on our bench had any doubt," U of L assistant coach Mike Balado said. "He's been working so hard on free throws and it showed. I knew he was going to hit them."

Sophomore Terry Rozier said when the Cardinals do a drill in practice where they shoot free throws at the end, "he's always stepping up and saying he needs to take them," for the starting group and as Rozier said, "it paid off."

"I'm really happy for him," Rozier said. "He was hitting some big shots down the stretch for us. He's a tough kid and you can tell that. He's put in the work for that game.

"He knew he was missing free throws and he worked hard on them."

Snider said he thought back to the times in high school when he missed some crucial free throws at Ballard and that "paid off for me."

"I knew my teammates needed these points," he said. "I just had to knock them down."

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