Cards win 75-74 thriller over Memphis

Larry O'Bannon's three-pointer with just 28 seconds remaining in the Conference USA Tournament final in Memphis, TN propelled No. 6 Louisville (29-4) to a thrilling 75-74 victory over upstart Memphis (19-15). But in a game that featured hot-shooting, the two shots forever remembered will be Tiger's guard Darius Washington's two missed free throws with 0.00 on the game clock.

Larry O'Bannon's three-pointer with just 28 seconds remaining in the Conference USA Tournament final in Memphis, TN propelled No. 6 Louisville (29-4) to a thrilling 75-74 victory over upstart Memphis.

But in a game that featured hot-shooting, the two shots forever remembered will be Tiger's guard Darius Washington's two missed free throws with 0.00 on the game clock.

Ahead 75-73 after little-used guard Brad Gianiny made 1-of-2 free throws with 6 seconds remaining, Washington raced the ball up court, pulled up and missed a three-pointer from the key but was fouled in the process by Louisville's Francisco Garcia as time expired.

But Washington, who hit the first of his three free throw attempts, missed the next two, giving the Cardinals their second C-USA Tournament title in the past three years.

And while the scenario at the end of the game was eerily similar to the Cardinals loss to No. 4 Kentucky earlier this season at Freedom Hall, the outcome Saturday was much more to Louisville's liking.

"I could only think about Sparks and the Kentucky game," Louisville senior forward Ellis Myles said.

"There was a lot of praying going on then," added junior guard Taquan Dean.

And when Washington's last attempt clanked harmlessly off the right side of the rim? "It's over. We won. Let's party!" Myles recalled thinking.

On the Memphis side, though, dejection ruled.

"You're mind goes blank, your heart stops and you can't believe what just happened," said Memphis guard Anthony Rice. "There was nothing we could do about it."

Washington, the C-USA Freshman of the year, was "unconsoleable," after the game according to Tiger coach John Calipari. Still, Calipari pointed out that his team wouldn't have been in contention if not for his talented freshman's 23 point, 6 assist, 4 rebound and two steal performance.

Likely headed to the National Invitational Tournament following their heart-breaking loss to the Cardinals, Calipari was pleased with how well his team performed against Louisville despite the loss.

"What a great game," a dejected Calipari said. "My team couldn't play any better. They hit 15 3's and we still had a chance to win."

"We lost to a great team and for them to make the plays down the stretch when we were about to put the knife in them is incredible," added Calipari. "We're (playing) like a Top 20 team right now and they're a No. 1 seed and just escaped."

Led by Dean's four 3's, Louisville hit a C-USA championship game record 15 three-pointers. The league's top shooting team, the Cardinals made 59.3% (16-27) in the first half as they went to the locker room tied at 41.

"Usually when these two teams play it's a defensive struggle," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "But this was a spectacular offensive performance by both teams. The drama was incredible and what was at stake was enormous."

"We're elated and excited," added Pitino.

Garcia led Louisville with 19 points, while freshman Juan Palacios and Dean scored 14 points each. O'Bannon, who hit 3-3 three-pointers, finished with 13 points. Myles, who had a triple-double Friday against UAB, had 9 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists.

Dean, who was named the tournament's MVP, was joined on the All-Tournament team by Garcia, Memphis guards Anthony Rice and Darius Washington and Terrance Leather of South Florida.

NOTES

PLANTING THE SEED?

Louisville now waits to find out what seed and location they'll be given in the NCAA Tournament, which begins next week.

The Cardinals, who received C-USA's automatic bid via their 75-74 win over Memphis, have an impressive tournament resume. The biggest question appears to be whether Louisville will get a No. 1 or 2 seed when the tournament field is announced Sunday evening.

So what does Pitino think about the situation.

"I think we're deserving (of a No. 1 seed) but I don't know if we'll get it," he said. "We're the sixth ranked team in the country and we're on a tremendous run."

Louisville heads into the NCAA Tournament having won 18 of their last 19 games.

The Cardinals likely will be sent to either Nashville or Indianapolis for the first/second round games.


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