- Associated Press - Saturday, February 27, 2016

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - Rick Pitino said his Louisville Cardinals gave another championship effort, even though they won’t be playing for any postseason titles.

And now their chances of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference are pretty dim, too.

No. 12 Louisville missed nine consecutive shots down the stretch to squander a lead and lost 73-65 to No. 11 Miami on Saturday.

The Cardinals (22-7, 11-5) fell behind Miami into third place in the league race with two games left. They will sit out this year’s conference and NCAA tournaments as a self-imposed penalty announced early this month, and given the circumstances, Pitino is pleased his Cardinals have continued to play hard.

“You would think we’re playing for a one seed,” he said. “We won’t hang any banners, we won’t have any Final Fours. But I’ll appreciate this team so much.”

The Cardinals went nearly 5 minutes without a point as their 62-58 lead turned into a 70-62 deficit.

“We missed four wide-open shots,” Pitino said. “Sometimes you just miss.”

Angel Rodriguez had 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Hurricanes (23-5, 12-4), who completed a sweep of their nine league home games. It was the final home game for seniors Rodriguez, Tonye Jekiri, Sheldon McClellan and Ivan Cruz Uceda.

“A very emotional day,” said Rodriguez, whose family flew in from his native Puerto Rico for the game. “I’m very happy we won, and as an individual, obviously I’ve got to be happy with my performance.”

Miami trailed 56-51 with 8 minutes left before Rodriguez took over the game.

“From that moment on he was sensational, the best player at both ends of the court,” coach Jim Larranaga said.

Pitino agreed.

“He’s a much different player than last year,” Pitino said. “Last year he was out of control, he was erratic, he was heavy. This year he is light and doing all the smart things. You’ve got to give credit to a player who turns around his body and his game like that.”

Miami’s Davon Reed scored 17 points, including a 3-pointer in the final minute to help seal the win. McClellan added 13 points.

“Both teams played really good basketball, fun basketball,” Pitino said. “But they were the better team in the second half.”

Louisville sophomore Chinanu Onuaku, who fouled out late in the game, tied a career high with six assists and had 10 points and eight rebounds. He frowned when asked why his team went cold late in the game.

“I didn’t get the ball inside,” he said. “They were pressuring our guards a lot.”

Cardinals leading scorer Damion Lee went 3 for 12 from the field, including 0 for 5 from 3-point range. He scored six points, more than 10 below his average.

Quentin Snider had 14 points for the Cardinals, who were shooting 56 percent for the game before their late drought.

The Hurricanes scored on nine of 11 possessions down the stretch, with Rodriguez repeatedly hurting Louisville on the pick and roll.

“They turned it up,” Cardinals guard Trey Lewis said. “Rodriguez picked us apart in the end.”

TIP-INS

Miami beat Louisville for the first time since 1963. The Cardinals had won five straight in the series.

UP NEXT

Louisville hosts Georgia Tech on Tuesday.

The Hurricanes visit No. 23 Notre Dame on Wednesday. It will be their fourth consecutive game against a ranked team over a 12-day stretch.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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