Louisville downs Davidson in NCAA tourney

rgreenjr@charlotteobserver.comMarch 15, 2012 

— Davidson's NCAA tournament experience came to a grinding end today as fourth-seeded Louisville relied on its defense to eliminate the Wildcats from the West Regional with a 69-62 victory in the Rose Garden.

The loss ended Davidson's season, leaving the Wildcats with a 25-8 record after their first NCAA appearance since 2008.

Louisville advances to play the Long Beach State-New Mexico winner on Saturday.

The Wildcats got a big game from center Jake Cohen but his 24 points and nine rebounds weren't enough for the Wildcats, who led only briefly at 15-14 in the first half.

Davidson trailed by 15 points with 3:22 remaining and cut the Louisville lead to five with 10 seconds remaining but that was as close as the Wildcats would get.

Poor 3-point shooting hurt the Wildcats who made just four of 19 shots from behind the arc.

The Wildcats struggled to score consistently, getting a full taste of Louisville's tenacious defense which ranked third nationally in field goal defense. Davidson made just two of 12 3-pointers in the first half, slipping behind and unable to pull even with the Cardinals.

Louisville gradually expanded its lead midway through the second half, building a 49-37 advantage that was accentuated by Davidson's De'Mon Brooks picking up his fourth personal foul in the process.

The Wildcats trailed 33-25 at halftime, allowing Louisville to pull away with a 7-1 run to close the half.

The Wildcats handled Louisville's tenacious defensive pressure effectively, not making any turnovers against the Cardinals' full-court press. Still, each offensive possession was a chore for the Wildcats, coping with Louisville's relentless defensive style.

Davidson fell behind 6-1 early but got its first lead at 15-14 on a short shot by Jake Cohen in the lane with just over 12 minutes remaining in the half.

Louisville stretched its lead to 22-16 with eight minutes remaining before the Wildcats began finding Cohen inside. Using penetration to draw the Louisville defense then dishing to Cohen, the big man had three straight buckets from point-blank range as the Wildcats stayed close to the Big East champions.

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