- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2009

DAYTON, OHIO (AP) - Terrence Williams wouldn’t let top-seeded Louisville crumble under pressure.

The carefree forward known to skip and dance across the court got serious after the Cardinals fell behind in the second half Sunday, rallying his top-seeded team to a 79-72 victory over Siena in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Louisville (30-5) advanced to the round of 16 for the second straight year. The Cardinals will play 12th-seeded Arizona in the Midwest Regional on Friday in Indianapolis.

Siena (27-8) overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half and led by four before Williams took over, hitting 3s, getting rebounds and starting fast breaks with one-handed passes. He finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds.

Edwin Ubiles scored 24 points for the Saints, who handled Louisville’s full-court pressure and then applied some of their own. The Cardinals headed to the bench for a timeout with stunned expressions after Clarence Jackson’s lay-in put Siena up 63-59 with 7:20 to go.

Who would lead them out of this trouble?

Williams, of course.

The senior forward who showed his big-game cool by skipping across the court during pregame introductions immediately drove for a basket and hit a 3-pointer that changed the momentum. He had nine points, five rebounds, a steal and a pair of one-handed passes for fastbreak layups the rest of the way.

Louisville had won its last 11 games and the Big East regular-season and tournament titles by applying the pressure _ full-court, nonstop. The Saints handled it without much problem _ only nine turnovers _ and applied a little of their own in the second half, making it a game.

They had no answer for Williams.

His two free throws with 35 seconds left put Louisville ahead 76-69 and ended the Saints’ upset chances. The loss extended the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s history of never having a team reach the round of 16.

This one came as close as any.

Siena has a starting five that’s good enough to play with the best. The bench? Not much there. Coach Fran McCaffery played his five starters for the last 24 minutes of a double-overtime upset over Ohio State in the first round, showing how little he trusts his reserves.

Given that lack of depth, the Saints seemed due for a full-court meltdown in the second half. Four of their five starters played 18 minutes or more in the first, which ended with Louisville ahead 42-35.

At the outset, the second half belonged to the birds.

Louisville forced a couple of turnovers and pulled ahead 52-40 on Williams’ 3-pointer from the left corner. During the next timeout, a bird _ no, not a cardinal _ that had been flying around University of Dayton Arena all weekend decided to land on the blue NCAA logo at midcourt.

A good harbinger? Not for the Cardinals.

Jackson had a putback, a 3-pointer and two lay-ins during a 12-0 run that was set up by turnovers and got the vastly outnumbered Saints crowd on its feet, sensing a huge upset in the making. Louisville players walked to the bench with heads down during the next timeout, unsure who would lead them the rest of the way.

During the timeout, coach Rick Pitino urged his team to prove itself.

Williams did.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide