“We came here to win this tournament, and we’re very disappointed we’re going home.” Those were the words of Louisville coach Rick Pitino after the Cardinals’ 70 – 60 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels in front of a heavily pro Tar Heel crowd.
The Cardinals were in control for much of the game. However, as has been the case throughout the season, they suffered from a scoring drought at the worst time. Montrezl Harrell slammed home an alley oop pass from Quentin Snider to give the Cards a 57 – 56 lead with 7:28 remaining. North Carolina would then score eight consecutive points to go ahead 64 – 57 and never trail again.
Senior Wayne Blackshear finally ended the 5:28 drought by hitting a three to cut the Tar Heels lead to four. The Cardinals had a couple of chances after a steal by Mangok Mathiang on the next possession, but Terry Rozier missed an open three and after a Mathiang offensive rebound Snider missed a jumper. North Carolina would hit all six of their foul shots in the last minute to seal the deal.
Rozier led the Cardinals with 20 points, but was only 1 – 8 from three point range. Rozier’s 6 for 20 shooting performance continues a month and a half long struggle from the field. He is shooting only 32.8 percent since January 28.
Blackshear and Harrell had strong performances for the 14th-ranked Cardinals. Blackshear scored 18 points and Harrell scored 14 and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
Junior forward Brice Johnson led the 19th-ranked Tar Heels with a game-high 22 points. He scored 18 after halftime.
Louisville must now wait for Selection Sunday to find out their fate. Many have them as a solid number four seed, but as the past as shown, nothing is for sure especially after a first round tourney exit.