It seemed like the three-point shot hung in the air forever, after Luke Nelson released it. The shot clanged off, and was collected by Quentin Snider who barely got a hold of it before tumbling down after being checked, in struggle for the loose ball.
Snider hit his free throws, then fouled an Anteater to run down time. Throw in another check going for the ball and Louisville survived a defensive struggle against the Big West Tournament champions to move on.
I noted in the preview for this game that if Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell were stopped, then the Anteaters would take it down to the last shot. That's what happened here, Rozier and Harrell were shut down and limited to 20 points total, while on the other end, Mamadou Ndiaye and Will Davis II were forcing their way to the basket and scoring efficiently, totaling 26 points and 14 rebounds combined. It made for some wildly entertaining plays:
Ultimately, despite the statistic evenness of the two teams in this game, it was Louisville's "ability" to get to the line (six attempts versus Irvine's two), as well as the forced turnovers that led to the final outcome of this game.
Louisville will now move on to face Northern Iowa in the third round.
The Anteaters should be very pleased with their performance today as well as their season. For one, they almost forced our site to make a blue and gold Cinderella shirt, and for another they made school history. Coach Turner summed it up in his interview perfectly:
I told them, I think what I said before, that just as we experienced this pain, this emotional struggle with losing in a big game that we feel like we could have won, we had that happen to us in the Big West Championship in a game that would have qualified us for this tournament a couple of years ago. And I felt like that helped us this year to overcome that barrier. I hope that our ability to perform and play and compete in this game today will allow us as a program to move on to greater success, be an experience we can draw on to win this game or a game like it.