Cards fall to Bearcats in overtime

The visiting Cardinals lost it's third straight when they fell in overtime at Cincinnati 66-61 on Saturday afternoon.

The Louisville Cardinals, who have had a season that has been full of struggles both on and off the court, was forced to overcome another potential setback when they took to the court against rival Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon, as starting power forward Luke Whitehead was sidelined with an ankle injury.

Despite improved play during the second half, Louisville came just short of snapping its losing skid and lost to the Bearcats 66-61 in overtime.

As the 10th-ranked Cardinals tipped it off against the 14th-ranked Bearcats, they opened the game in a similar fashion that has been seen recently as they have lost four of their last five. Cincinnati, who had lost four of their last six, jumped out early 9-2.

Louisville, which once again wore their black uniforms, quickly responded with an 11-1 run to take a 12-10 advantage, but the Cardinals wouldn't muster much offensive output for the remainder of the half.

While U of L's offensive struggles continued, its defensive pressure increased, forcing multiple turnovers by the home Bearcats.

Both teams combined to shoot a dismal 22.8% from the field during the first half, which led to low-scoring first half, as Cincinnati took a 20-15 lead at the break.

The Cardinals, which were led by Francisco Garcia's seven first half points, connected on just 6 of 29 shot attempts, including just 2 of 11 from behind the three-point arc. Louisville had three stretches of more than 4:30 minutes during the first half in which they failed to score a basket from the field, including the final 5:17.

The Bearcats managed to hit just 7 of 28 first half field goal attempts and only 1 of 8 from beyond the arc.

Louisville's offensive struggles continued at the start of the second half, but when Taquan Dean connected on his third three-pointer of the game, it pulled the Cardinals within 24-20 at the 16:34 mark.

With Cincinnati leading 28-20, Louisville's Garcia scored five straight points on a layup and a three-pointer from the top of the key to pull the Cardinals within 28-25 and force Bearcat head coach Bob Huggins to call a timeout with 13:10 remaining in the game. Two free throws by Garcia pulled U of L within one at 28-27 just a minute later.

Cincinnati's Field Williams had a four-point play moments later when he was fouled by Alhaji Mohammed after draining a three-pointer, giving Cincinnati a 32-27 advantage.

The Bearcats Tony Bobbitt then hit his first three-pointer of the afternoon pushing the home teams lead to 37-30 with 9:50 left in the contest.

When Garcia connected on his fourth three-pointer of the game, his third of the second half, it brought the Cardinals within 46-42 with five minutes left in the contest. An Otis George dunk narrowed the margin to 46-44, forcing the Bearcats to call a thirty second timeout with four minutes left.

Garcia scored and was fouled on a fast break layup and when the sophomore converted the free throw, it brought the visiting Cardinals within 48-47.

Larry O'Bannon, who had struggled from the floor throughout the game, drained two free throws with :56 seconds remaining to give the Cardinals its first lead since early in the first half at 51-50.

Cincinnati's Maxiell gave the home team the lead back at 52-51 with :35 seconds remaining in the contest. However, a Nate Daniels three-pointer, off an assist from Garcia, gave the lead back to the Cardinals at 54-52 with :16 seconds remaining.

A deep two-pointer by Field Williams at the buzzer evened the score at 54-54 to send the two rivals into an overtime period.

Louisville shot 50% from the field during the second half, while the Bearcats converted just 36% of their second half shot attempts.

After 1:30 of scoreless action both teams started to find the basket. A three-pointer by Garcia gave the Cardinals a 58-56 lead. However that was short lived, as Cincinnati's Eric Hicks gave the home team the lead back at 59-56 following a made free throw with 2:00 left.

A three-pointer by Bobbitt pushed the Bearcats lead to 62-58 with 1:50 left.

Trailing 64-61 with :27 seconds left, the Bearcats Tony Bobbitt converted two free throws to secure the 66-61 victory.

Cincinnati (18-5; 9-3), who had four players score in double figures, was led by Field Williams 18 points. Louisville was led by Garcia's 27 points.

The Cardinals (17-6; 7-5) will return to action on Wednesday, when they welcome Conference USA rival DePaul to Freedom Hall.

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