Pitt Knocks Off Louisville

Free-throw shooting has been an Achilles heel for the Pitt men's basketball team all season, and the Panthers missed 10 foul shots against second-seeded Louisville in a quarterfinal matchup at the Big East Tournament Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

However, Pittsburgh (24-9) converted 10 straight free throws in overtime to knock off the 13th-ranked Cardinals (24-8), 76-69 in overtime, and advance into the semifinals Friday night at 9. The Panthers will face either Marquette or Notre Dame. Both teams have a win against Pitt in the regular season. West Virginia-Georgetown is the other semifinal contest.

Junior forward Sam Young scored a game-high 21 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for Pitt, which is 17-6 in its recent run in the Big East Tournament and can still reach its seventh Conference title game in the past eight seasons. The Panthers have played in the past two Big East championship games.

Freshman center DeJuan Blair, who had no field goals and had two points in the Panthers' first tourney win, tallied 16 points and eight rebounds against Louisville. Senior guard Ronald Ramon and junior point guard Levance Fields added 13 points each.

Young hit a pair of free throws with less than a minute remaining in overtime, as Pitt held its biggest lead, 74-64, with 30.9 seconds left. The Panthers outscored Louisville 12-2 to start the overtime period and now have eliminated the Cardinals from three straight Big East Tournaments.

Earl Clark scored 19 for Louisville, while Derrick Caracter, Juan Palacios and David Padgett had 11 each. Young's basket with 1:50 remaining in regulation gave Pitt a 62-60 lead, but Clark's put-back with less than a minute to go tied the score.

After a timeout, the Panthers held for the last shot, but Fields ended up taking a contested shot and heaved up a wild toss at the buzzer that clanked off the rim and sent the game into overtime.

Senior guard Keith Benjamin played just eight minutes for the Panthers due to foul trouble, picking up two quick ones in each half, but he didn't foul out. Instead, Pitt coach Jamie Dixon went with redshirt freshman Gilbert Brown for 36 minutes. Brown still can't shoot well from the outside, in particular 3-point range, but his game is more complete overall now. Brown tallied eight points, eight rebounds and two assists while playing solid defense. And other than Young, he is Pitt's most athletic player.

Tyrell Biggs and Bradley Wanamaker played 17 and 13 minutes, respectively, with a few good minutes each. Biggs had five points and three rebounds, but was just 1-for-4 from the line. Wanamaker missed both field goals and both free-throw attempts, but he played decent defense.

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