The University of Louisville dropped a doubleheader on its opening night of a six-day, nine-game stretch in Puerto Rico, but head coach Rick Pitino still came out a winner.
Pitino coached the Puerto Rican National Team to an 89-81 win over the Cardinals in the second game after a Junior team from Puerto Rico jumped ahead 17 points and held on for a 94-88 win over U of L's 'B' squad.
"I'll be honest with you, I thought it would be a rebuilding year," Pitino said. "But this trip has given me renewed hope, because of practice, that it's not going to be a rebuilding year."
Pitino said he wasn't happy with the first game and the loss, but noted his team fought through some physical play in the nightcap against a team chock full of professional players.
The Cardinals led by 10 points in the third quarter before the national team got rolling after an injury to guard J.J. Barea.
"I thought the Puerto Rico team would run out of gas, but just the opposite – Louisville ran out of gas,” Pitino said. “I thought Louisville did an excellent job, then they just took some ill-advised shots. They'll learn a lot from this."
Damion Lee led the Cardinals with 36 points in the night cap, hitting 11 of 18 from the field and all nine of his free throws. Chinanu Onuaku added 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Trey Lewis had 13 points and six rebounds.
The Cardinals hit 24 of 68 from the field, including 9 of 24 three-point field goals. U of L turned it over 15 times, while coming up with just 10 assists and committing 26 fouls.
Cardinal Authority publisher Jody Demling recaps day one: