Nwora, Cunningham cap Louisville win over Seton Hall
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — If there’s one word that can best describe Louisville during the early stages of the college basketball season, it would be resiliency.
Just ask the head coach and the reserve shooting guard.
“I was pleased with our resiliency,” said Louisville head coach Chris Mack, after his team escaped the Prudential Center Saturday with a 70-65 victory over Seton Hall. “We just keep fighting back.”
“I think this just shows how resilient we are,” said junior guard Ryan McMahon, who came off the bench to knock down three clutch 3-pointers, none bigger than the one with 36 seconds left and the shot clock at two, giving the Cardinals a 66-62 advantage. “It shows how good we can be.”
The Cardinals (5-2), fresh off a victory over No. 8 Michigan State Tuesday, made the big plays down the stretch, overturning a nine-point second-half Seton Hall lead.
Christen Cunningham scored five straight points in a 9-0 run that gave the Cardinals the lead for good at 63-59 with 2:06 left.
“I was anxious to see how we would respond to Seton Hall’s best punch,” Mack said. “We got more stops in the second half that we have had all year.”
The Cardinals kept Seton Hall’s leading scorer Myles Powell mostly in check, especially down the stretch. Although Powell scored a game-high 23 points, it didn’t come easily. Powell shot just 6 of 19 from the floor and just 2 of 12 from 3-point range.
Seton Hall (4-3) connected on just 2 of 21 shots during the final seven minutes of the game.
“We’ve had some very close games back-to-back-to-back,” said Louisville junior forward Dwayne Sutton. “We’ve done a good job of handling late-game situations.”
The Cardinals dropped an overtime game to Marquette last week before knocking off Michigan State and then winning Saturday. Both prior games were played to overtime.
The Cardinals got four clutch free throws in the final minute from Jordan Nwora, who scored only nine points, eight below his seasonal average.
The Pirates had a chance to tie with 10 seconds left, but Powell’s 3-point try clanked off the rim.
“I thought that shot was a really, really tough look,” Mack said. “If they had been dribbling around, we probably would have elected to foul there.”
“We knew Powell was a great scorer,” Sutton said. “We had to make sure it was a tough game for him. We wanted to keep the ball away from him as much as possible. I think we played well defensively.”
Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard believes that his team is relying too much on Powell.
“We have to learn how to run our offense,” Willard said. “We took a couple of bad shots when we were up that led to transition. The biggest thing we need to have is other guys who can make a play to take the pressure off Powell. These guys have to get better.”
Every player who played scored for Louisville. Sutton led the way with 12, all in the first half, with McMahon, Nwora and Darius Perry adding nine apiece. Michael Nzei scored 12 for Seton Hall.
Seton Hall: Home vs. New Hampshire Tuesday.
Louisville: Home vs. Central Arkansas Wednesday.
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