Wildcats depart after 69-62 loss to Louisville

Louisville’s relentless defensive pressure was too much for

Davidson.

The Wildcats (25-8) were unable to play the up-tempo offense

they’re used to, or slow down Cardinals point guard Peyton Siva,

and fourth -seeded Louisville went on to a 69-62 win Thursday in

the NCAA West Regional.

”I think it was a combination of Louisville’s great defense and

us missing shots,” Davidson coach Bob McKillup said. ”There were

several times when we had wide open looks and just didn’t knock

them down.”

Davidson, the No. 13 seed, hit only four of 19 3-point attempts

and ended up shooing 35 percent from the floor (21-of-60), well off

its average of 44 percent. . , off their average of 44 percent.

Jake Cohen had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Davidson, which

made the tournament for the 11th time but first since 2008 when

Stephen Curry led long-shot Wildcats to the round of eight.

Cohen found openings, but it wasn’t easy.

”It’s something that’s always in the back of your head,” he

said. ”When you get the ball out you’ve got to be worrying about

their pressure and how you’re going to break it.”

Siva, who masterfully worked off screens, had 17 points and six

assists for the Cardinals (27-9), who made it through their opening

round game for the first time in three years.

Chane Behanan added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Cardinals,

who led by as many as 14. Louisville will play Saturday against the

winner of Thursday’s game between New Mexico and Long Beach

State.

The Cardinals jumped out to the early lead but Nic Cochran hit a

3-pointer to give Davidson a 13-12 advantage. Kyle Kuric’s layup

put Louisville back in front.

Louisville’s 6-foot-11 center, Gorgui Dieng, got into foul

trouble, picking up three midway through the first half. But the

Cardinals began to inch away, pulling ahead 20-16 after Behanan’s

layup and Kuric’s jumper.

Davidson fought off Louisville’s defensive pressure and narrowed

it to 26-24 on 6-10 junior Cohen’s turnaround jumper with 3:20 left

in the half. But the Cardinals slowed down the Wildcats and went up

31-25 after Russ Smith’s 3-pointer with 1:09 left.

Cochran made a free throw before Elisha Justice’s layup with 21

seconds left that made it 33-25 at the break.

Siva opened the second half with a dunk to stretch the

Cardinals’ lead to 10 points. His jumper with 14:20 left extended

the lead to 43-31.

Behanan’s layup put Louisville up 58-44 with 3:37 left. Davidson

got to within 59-51 when Chris Czerapowicz made a 3-pointer with

1:57 left. Cochran made three straight free throws to make it 67-60

with 22.6 seconds left.

Tyler Kalinoski’s layup got the Wildcats within 67-62, but time

ran out for Davidson.

McKillup said the lack of tournament experience hurt the

Wildcats.

”The hardest thing I felt in terms of this team for this

particular game was the lack of NCAA experience,” he said. ”I

think they showed themselves very well. For being their first time

in the NCAA tournament, I was incredibly pleased with the way they

handled themselves. They were superb.

”You saw there at the end, we didn’t quit. We didn’t give up.

We used every ounce of energy to make every play count and try to

stay in the game.”

The Cardinals were ranked as high as No. 4 earlier this season,

but a spate of injuries and a stretch with five losses in seven

games dropped them out of the rankings. They came into the Big East

tournament with losses in three of their four final games.

But they rolled through the conference tourney with four wins in

four days, beating Seton Hall, Marquette, Notre Dame and, finally,

Cincinnati in the championship game to take some momentum going

into the NCAA tournament.

Davidson got a tournament berth this year with a dramatic,

double-overtime victory over Western Carolina last Friday in the

championship game of the Southern Conference tournament. The

Wildcats led by 12 with 2 minutes left in regulation but needed two

overtimes to put it away.