Louisville pulls away late to beat Lipscomb 72-68

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              Louisville forward Dwayne Sutton (24) attempts a shot over Lipscomb forward Eli Pepper (22) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. Louisville won 72-68. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Malik Williams may like to drift out and shoot a 3, but Louisville needed its power forward to grab every rebound he could get his hands on.

The sophomore did Wednesday night, grabbing 13 rebounds that included 10 on the defensive end to go with 10 points to help the Cardinals fend off Lipscomb 72-68 on Wednesday night.

Louisville (7-3) rebounded from a 68-67 loss to Indiana on Saturday that snapped a three-game winning streak.

Jordan Nwora led the Cardinals with 22 points and nine rebounds while Dwayne Sutton added 14 points and nine boards.

Garrison Matthews led Lipscomb (7-3) with five 3-pointers and 20 points. Rob Marberry added 11 points.

“Just knowing we needed this win and not wanting back-to-back losses after the loss to IU, the game just seemed to come to me tonight,” said Williams, a 6-foot-11 sophomore and Louisville’s tallest player. “The balls just happened to be near me and it was just all about going up strong and getting them.”

Louisville coach Chris Mack said his team was up against a well-disciplined and experienced team and praised Williams’ play.

“When he was a freshman, he got pushed around and he won’t be mistaken for Shaq, but he has great size and stays in the play using his unique timing,” Mack said. “To be able to block a shot and then go after it shows he just seems to always be in the play. We need him to play more minutes because he is by far our best interior defender.”

Nwora ignited the Cardinals, scoring their first 11 points. His 3-pointer and dunk pushed the Louisville advantage to 29-21 with 5:53 left in the half, but Lipscomb rallied to 34-33 when Nathan Moran found Matt Rose for a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Lipscomb grabbed its first lead at 35-34 on a bucket by Michael Buckland to open the second half. Louisville pushed its lead back to 12, but Lipscomb tied it at 52 with 9:25 to go.

Matthews made four free throws to pull the Bisons to 66-65 with 1:32 remaining. Williams then split a pair of free throws and Darius Perry forced a Lipscomb turnover. Following a Louisville timeout, Christen Cunningham’s jumper stretched the Cardinals’ lead to 69-65 with 21 seconds left. Another Lipscomb turnover and two free throws from Ryan McMahon made it 71-65 with 10 seconds left.

Mack said he knew his team escaped with a hard fought, although sloppy victory. The Cardinals turned the ball over 17 times while only forcing 11.

“Just in general, our turnovers were either sloppy or we were soft with the ball and that needs to be corrected,” Mack said. “We had a tough time finishing around the basket. Our inability to make layups through contact is driving me nuts. At least today we earned shots in and around the basket where I thought against IU we shot donut basketball.”

BIG PICTURE

Louisville: The Cardinals figured to have an easier time following a tough 68-67 loss to Indiana last Saturday but found themselves in another battle. The Cardinals finished with a 49-35 rebounding advantage, but it was a struggle shooting for the Cardinals who hit just 23 of 61 from the field.

Lipscomb: The Bisons entered averaging 85.6 points after beating Navy 107-81 on Saturday and losing to Nashville neighbor Belmont 76-74 on Dec. 4. Despite struggling from the floor against Louisville–shooting 23 of 65–they still had a chance late against the Cardinals.

“It wasn’t our best performance by any stretch, and Louisville had a lot to do with that,” Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said. “To put ourselves into a position where we actually had a chance late, that shows a lot of grit and fight.”

UP NEXT

Lipscomb hosts Division III Covent on Monday night. The Bisons return home after playing six of their last seven on the road.

Louisville hosts Kent State on Saturday as part of a five-game homestand that includes No. 19 Kentucky on Dec. 29.