Dean leads Cards to overtime win

Taquan Dean led Louisville (18-10, 6-9) with 19 points and helped the Cardinals defeat visiting Marquette in overtime and claim a spot in the Big East Conference tournament...

The announced crowd of 19,505 at Freedom Hall on Wednesday night for Louisville's final home game of the season roared from start to finish as senior guard Taquan Dean led the Cardinals to a 67-60 overtime win over Marquette and a spot in the Big East Conference Tournament.

Dean, who was honored during senior night prior to the game, struggled from the floor throughout the contest, but came up big when needed, scoring, including seven points in the overtime period.

"It's the best feeling, but at the same time it's the worst feeling," said Dean of his final home game. "You know that you want to go out there and have a great show, but everything is kind of out of whack. I was definitely out of whack for a lot of this game, but at the same time I will remember it forever."

On the strength of three-pointers from Brandon Jenkins, Juan Palacios and Andre McGee, Louisville built it's largest lead of the game early, when it built an 18-6 advantage during the game's first five minutes. After watching it's early lead shrink to just 21-19 midway through the opening frame, the Cardinals once again turned to the three ball – this time from Dean and McGee to increase it's margin back to ten at 31-21with 3:30 remaining in the first half.

The Cardinals, which led 31-26 at the break, held visiting Marquette to just 33% shooting during the opening frame. The usually deep ball threat Golden Eagles connected on just 2 of 10 from beyond the arc, while Louisville converted 7 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes.

"It was a great game with two teams playing their hearts out," said U of L head coach Rick Pitino following the win. "We had to play great defense because we made our shots early and we didn't make them late. But we played defense and we rebounded."

Terrence Williams and Juan Palacios grabbed 13 and 10 rebounds respectively, helping the Cardinals win the battle on the boards and collect a season-high 52 caroms.

The game continued to be a game of runs, with the Cardinals building another 10 point lead at 40-30 early in the second half. However a 17-6 run by Marquette gave the visitors their only second half lead at 47-46 with 10:52 remaining in the game.

"Both teams are cut from same cloth in terms of preparation," said Pitino. "We know every move each other is going to make. Marquette-Louisville's always been that way. Always played each other tough it was a great battle."

Leading by seven with just over six minutes left, the Cardinals struggled to close the game, missing six consecutive free throw attempts and allowed the Golden Eagles to slowly close the gap.

With five seconds left in regulation, Marquette's Steve Novak, who scored 20 points in the loss, grabbed a Chad Millard missed free throw, which led to a three-pointer at the buzzer by Dominic James which knotted the score at 58 and forced an overtime period.

"Taquan pulled us together and told us that we were about to win the game and to not worry about what happened in regulation," said junior guard Brandon Jenkins about the team's discussion in the huddle prior to the overtime session.

Shortly after the win, the team learned that it had gained a berth into the upcoming Big East Conference tournament in New York City.

"When you have confidence it leads to other players believing," said Dean of fulfilling his goal of reaching the Big East tournament. "I kept my confidence and now our guys believe."

Louisville will close out it's regular season on Saturday when it visits 2nd-ranked Connecticut.

GAME NOTES:

  • Sophomore Terrance Farley set a career-high with six blocks against Marquette. His previous high for blocks was four in a win over Notre Dame on 2/4/06. He's second on the team with 22 blocks.
  • The Cardinals shot a season-high 39 three-point field goals (one shy of school record of 40 against TCU in 2002) against Marquette, besting the mark of 33 trifectas attempted against Tennessee-Martin in the season opener on11/19/05.
  • U of L hit 10 or more three-pointers for the 13th time this season. Louisville is 10-3 when connecting on 10 or more trifectas in a game this season.
  • With 19 points, senior guard Taquan Dean moved past Nate Johnson (1996-2000) and into 17th-place all-time with 1,529 points. Dean also grabbed nine rebounds to give him 505 for his career. He has tallied six or more boards in the last seven straight games.
  • Freshman Terrance Williams reached a new career high with 13 rebounds on Wednesday night. Williams' previous best was 10 boards against Prairie View on 12/3/05. He also recorded his first double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
  • After being out-rebounded in their first eight BIG EAST Conference games, the Cardinals have now won the rebounding advantage in their last three games. The Cardinals recorded a season-high 52 rebounds.
  • The Cardinals held Marquette 60 points, their lowest total since being held to 61 in a win over San Francisco on 12/17/05.
  • The Cardinals played their second overtime game of the season for the first time since they played three in 2003-04. Louisville is now 5-4 in overtime games under head coach Rick Pitino.
  • Sophomore Juan Palacios recorded his 10th career double-double and fourth this season with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Freshman Chad Millard recorded a career-best eight rebounds, besting his previous best of four against Arkansas State on 12/4/05.

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