While Louisville started the game with an 8-0 run and would build a 17-point advantage early in the second half, it took the Cardinals two overtime periods before it could pull away and notch the school's first Big East Conference Tournament victory, winning 82-71.
"For some reason we always have great games with West Virginia," said Pitino, who guided the Cardinals to a 93-85 overtime win over WVU in the 2005 NCAA Regional. "They are very difficult to play against, and our guys did a great job of concentrating tonight defensively."
A night after setting a Big East Tournament record by making 17 three-pointers, the 7th-seeded Mountaineers struggled to score against the Cardinals. WVU connected on just 37% of it's field goal attempts and hit only 7 of it's 31 three-point attempts.
After taking a 35-27 lead at the half, U of L opened the second half of action in great form and appeared to be in position to put the game out of reach early when a jumper by Earl Clark gave the Cardinals a 44-27 advantage with 16:43 to play.
West Virginia responded with an 18-0 run over the next eight minutes and claimed their first lead of the game, 45-44, with nine minutes remaining.
"We have droughts from time to time, but we don't get down about it," said Pitino. "We just hang in there. We told them, they have had runs against everybody to come back in a game, be it Providence, be it Pittsburgh, be it UCLA. They have runs against everyone."
A lay-up from David Padgett, who connected on 6 of 7 from the field and scored 16 points, ended the run and regained the lead for the Cardinals.
However, West Virginia regained the lead and a Darris Nichols lay-up with four seconds remaining in the game seemed to seal the upset win for the Mountaineers. However U of L freshman point guard Edgar Sosa, a New York City native, drove the length of the court to tie the game at 56-56 and force overtime.
"He epitomizes what you've heard for the last 30 years about the New York City point guard," said Pitino. "A New York City guard means he has no fear of anything, he's going to play with a lot of emotion and a lot of passion...he's very big at those moments and wants those moments."
Neither team would take control during the extra five minutes of play and with the score tied at 66, the two would play a second overtime, when Louisville would outscore West Virginia 16-5 en route to it's 11-point victory.
Sophomore Terrence Williams paced the Cardinals with a game-high 21 points and 9 rebounds. Starting in the place of the injured Juan Palacios, freshman Earl Clark scored 17 points and collected 9 rebounds. Brandon Jenkins added 11 points, while Edgar Sosa finished with 8.
Louisville will face the winner of the Pittsburgh/Marquette game in semi-final action at 9:00 p.m. (EST) on Friday. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.