ITTSBURGH - A season of inconsistency ended with a night of inconsistency. The University of Massachusetts Minutemen -- at times tremendous, at times horrendous -- lived both up and down to their reputation as the basketball equivalent of Forrest Gump's box of chocolates last night and fell to Louisville, 65-57, in a first-round NCAA Tournament game.
The Minutemen close this most unpredictable of seasons at 19-14. Louisville, 24-8, advances to the second round against New Mexico.
Down the stretch, Louisville delivered while UMass withered. The Cardinals hit 11 of 12 free throws in the final 5:01, including 6-6 in the final 1:18 from Nate Johnson, who did not look at all like a freshman playing his first NCAA Tournament game.
UMass, in contrast, missed some critical free throws that could have potentially extended the season. Down 53-51 with 2:07 remaining, Edgar Padilla came up short on the front end of a one-and-one. With 1:40 left and UMass down four, he hit one of two to close the gap to 55-52.
After Johnson sank a pair, Tyrone Weeks gathered in a low entry pass and hit a tough leaning 12-footer to bring UMass within three at 57-54 with 58.9 seconds left.
The Minutemen chose to foul Johnson right away, and he hit both free throws to extend the margin to five. Carmelo Travieso then missed a baseline jumper, and Charlton Clarke fouled Johnson on the rebound. Two more free throws by the freshman basically sent UMass packing.
Johnson led all scorers with 21 points, hitting 5-7 from the field and 10-10 from the line. DeJuan Wheat, locked up by Travieso's defense in the first half, erupted for 13 of his 16 points after intermission. Alex Sanders added 10 for Louisville.
Weeks paced UMass with 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Travieso finished with 13 hard-won points against Sims' aggressive defense. Clarke had 10.
Padilla finished with six points and a game-high six assists.
Louisville did a very good job on the glass, winning the rebound battle, 32-26. Other than Weeks, UMass had trouble getting good position.
"We didn't stop him, but he didn't beat us," said Louisville coach Denny Crum. "We did a better job on (Lari) Ketner than I thought we would."
Ketner, playing his first tournament game, was fronted and backed effectively. He managed eight points and four rebounds.
UMass looked dominant in the early stages with a sticky man-to-man defense frustrating Louisville at every turn. Then the Minutemen hit a maddening lapse late in the first half and at the beginning of the second, watching a 28-19 lead transform to a 36-30 deficit.
The Minutemen then gathered themselves during a stretch where the lead went back and forth. At crunch time, though, they could find no answers, and the season came to an end.
When the final buzzer sounded, Padilla and Travieso sat for a moment huddled on the bench together, then got up to shake the hands of the victors. Their valiant careers were over.
"It was a great experience going through these four years," said Padilla. "We won a lot of games and learned a lot. We got better as players and as persons."
"We had a lot of good times here," said Travieso. "When you see it end with a loss like this you still can't put your heads down."
Louisville is 17-4 in first-round games under coach Denny Crum, whose team had lost to UMass the last two seasons.
ITTSBURGH - The five-month roller-coaster ride that has been the University of Massachusetts basketball campaign came to a screeching halt last night. The 11th-seeded Minutemen suffered the kind of breakdowns and lapses and inconsistencies that have typified their season and lost to sixth-seeded Louisville, 65-57, in the first round of the NCAA East Regional at Civic Arena.
The Minutemen jumped out to several 9-point leads in the first half but fell behind by 6 in the second and were never the same even when they regained the advantage. As a result, UMass wound up 19-14, ending its string of 20-win seasons at five and its run of first-round NCAA tournament victories at six.
Forward Nate Johnson had a game-high 21 points for the Cardinals (24-8), who will meet New Mexico in the second round tomorrow.
Louisville trailed, 28-19, with 1:19 left in the first half but cut the lead to 28-25 at halftime, then outscored UMass, 11-2, to take a 36-30 advantage with 15:38 left. But UMass rallied; Tyrone Weeks, Carmelo Travieso, and Lari Ketner each scored a bucket and Edgar Padilla added a free throw in a 7-0 run that gave the Minutemen a 37-36 edge with 12:47 to go.
Louisville led, 53-51, when Padilla went to the line for a one-and-one. He missed the front end, and the Cardinals converted at the other end on a bucket by Alex Simms. Then Padilla hit one of two shots with 1:40 left, and Johnson sank two free throws with 1:18 left to put the Cards up, 57-52, thus ending UMass' long-shot bid for a second straight Final Four appearance.
UMass guard Charlton Clarke opened the scoring on a right wing 3-pointer. From there, the first half was fast-paced, with each team running its offense well.
Louisville scored on four of its first five possessions, tying the game, 7-7, on a free throw by Alex Sanders.
UMass took a 10-7 lead as Padilla rebounded his own miss on a running layup and Weeks added a free throw. The Minutemen connected on four of their first eight shots, while Louisville hit three of its first seven.
UMass upped the lead to 15-9 with a 5-2 run that included a trey by Travieso. After both teams botched scoring opportunities, Weeks made it 18-9 on a 3-point play. Louisville ended a 3-minute 24-second drought with a high bank shot by Johnson with 11:25 left in the half.
The Minutemen tried to capitalize on their size advantage inside by posting up Ketner, but he twice picked up traveling calls. He wasn't the only one who blundered; UMass got sloppy midway through the half and would have been in jeopardy had Louisville shot better. As it was, the Cardinals cut the lead to 18-15.
Ketner scored his first points on a top-of-the key jumper just before the shot clock expired, giving UMass a 20-13 edge. With 4:57 left, Weeks scored inside to put the Minutemen up, 22-13.
But Louisville answered with a bucket inside by forward Damion Dantzler and a dunk by Sanders to cut the lead to 22-17. That got the Louisville faithful up and cheering, but Weeks silenced the celebration with another top-of-the-key jumper to put UMass up by 7 again.
Louisville committed its sixth turnover after Weeks's bucket. UMass responded with a top-of-the-key jumper by Travieso to increase the lead to 9. Sanders hit a short hook, but Louisville then committed three straight turnovers. UMass went ahead, 28-19, with 1:19 left on a layup by forward Winston Smith.
Then Louisville made its best surge of the half. Sanders hit the first of two free throws and missed the second, but Louisvlle got the rebound and leading scorer DeJuan Wheat collected his first points on a trey that closed the gap to 28-23. After a miss by Weeks at the other end, Louisville cut it to 28-25 with 26.1 sceonds left on a hook by Sanders.
Sanders and Johnson led Louisville with 8 points each, while Weeks led UMass with 10.
|Massachusetts Minutemen (E11)||57|
|Louisville Cardinals (E6)||65|
|NCAA Tournament First Round|
at Civic Arena, Pittsburgh PA
MASSACHUSETTS (57) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Clarke 38 4-11 1-1 0-3 1 4 10 Weeks 37 7-11 2-3 7-11 2 4 16 Ketner 35 4-6 0-0 0-4 0 2 8 Padilla 35 2-7 2-5 1-2 6 4 6 Travieso 39 5-14 0-0 0-3 2 4 13 Maclay 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Smith 6 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2 Kirkland 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 Basit 3 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Norville 6 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 24-53 5-9 8-23 11 22 57 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.453, FT-.556. 3-Point Goals: 4-17, .235 (Clarke 1-4, Padilla 0-5, Travieso 3-8). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 3 (Weeks, Ketner, Basit). Turnovers: 15 (Clarke 4, Ketner 3, Padilla 2, Travieso 2, Weeks 2, Basit, Norville). Steals: 4 (Weeks 2, Padilla, Smith). LOUISVILLE (65) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp N Johnson 32 5-7 10-10 2-5 3 2 21 Dantzler 36 4-7 1-2 3-5 1 1 9 Sanders 32 4-9 2-4 0-6 1 1 10 Sims 31 1-6 3-6 3-5 0 3 5 Wheat 37 4-10 5-6 0-2 5 4 16 Flynn 14 0-1 2-2 1-3 0 1 2 E Johnson 5 0-1 0-0 0-2 1 0 0 Smith 13 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 19-42 23-30 9-28 11 14 65 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.452, FT-.767. 3-Point Goals: 4-13, .308 (N Johnson 1-2, Sanders 0-2, Wheat 3-8, E Johnson 0-1). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 1 (Sims). Turnovers: 14 (Sims 6, Flynn 3, N Johnson 2, Dantzler). Steals: 8 (Sims 3, Dantzler 2, Sanders 2, Wheat). __________________________________ Massachusetts 28 29 - 57 Louisville 25 40 - 65 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 17,509. Officials: Dave Hall, Tom Eades, Bill Kennedy.