Final Four Wrap Up
With all of the anticipation arising in Atlanta, Georgia, all of the media attention, and all of the expectations sky high, the game had to be played at some point. As tip-off neared, questions surrounded both teams. Could Louisville keep its streak going and win for Kevin Ware? Could Wichita State continue its cinderella run to the national championship? With these in lurking in the minds of fans, the ball was thrown in the air to begin the Final Four. With Wichita State winning the tip, the Shockers made it be known that just because the other team has “Louisville” on their jerseys, doesn’t mean they will back down. WSU went on a 8-0 run to start the game, with Louisville guard Russ Smith starting 0-4 from the field, and 0-4 from the free throw line. However UL began to amp the pressure up and force turnovers to go on a 11-2 run and retake the lead, 11-10. The main contributor for UL in the first half was Montrezl Harrell, who finished the first half with 6 points and 3 rebounds. The Shocker defense kept its game plan intact to not allowing neither Siva nor Smith to successfully drive the lane, while also forcing the Cardinals to go on 2 three minute or plus stretches with 0 field goals. Also grabbing seven turnovers, WSU kept the momentum swinging back and forth. With 8 lead changes in the first half, the Shockers were exactly in the position they’d hoped for, leading Louisville 26-25.
The second half started no different for WSU. Getting Malcolm Armstead involved early, the Shockers lead hit as far as 12 before forcing UL to call a timeout. With time starting to tick away and the game starting to slip, Tim Henderson hit 2 back to back shots from behind the arc to cut the Wichita State lead to six. Being in the double bonus with over 11 minutes left, the Shockers visited the free throw line often. Going on a 12-3 run, the Cards cut the lead down to three with a little under 9 minutes left. Scratching and crawling to stay alive, Louisville went into the under 8 minute timeout down 55-51. Cleanthony Early was the major contributor for WSU. After three consecutive turnovers with a little over 5:40 left, Louisville took their first lead of the second half. After a few buckets being traded and a pair ofPeyton Siva free throws, the game was knotted at 58. With everybody in red standing at the Georgia Dome, coach Rick Pitino called a timeout with his boys tied with Cinderella, 60-60 with 3:08 left. After a Luke Hancock(finished with 20 points) clutch three, Louisville went up by five with 1:59 left. With only two minutes remaining, both teams dug in deep.
After the buzzer sounded, it was official. Louisville fought back from a 12 point deficit and will advance to the national title game. Wichita State should lose no credit at all, as for ¾ of the game, they had the number one overall seed with their backs against the wall. However it was the ¼ of the game that counts, and unfortunately for fans in black and yellow, WSU leaves Atlanta empty handed. As the clock hit zero, the camera showed Kevin Ware, the source of inspiration of this team, with tears strolling down his face along with a smile. They won for the city of Louisville, they won for their families, but most importantly, they won for Kevin. The Cardinals will take on the winner of the Michigan/Syracuse game on Monday, for a chance to forever be remembered as a national champion. Tip off at a time later to be announced.