The late Jim Valvano coined the phrase “survive and advance” during North Carolina State’s historic
1983 championship run. That is exactly what the No. 4 seed Louisville Cardinals did in their 57 – 55 win
against UC Irvine.
With top scorers Montrezl Harrell struggling offensively, senior Wayne Blackshear and freshman
Quentin Snider led the way for U of L. Blackshear showed aggressiveness in getting to the basket and
just simply looking for his shot. He finished with a game-high 19 points on a career-high 20 shots.
Snider finished with a career-high 16 points. More importantly, he showed great poise and confidence
throughout the game. He finished with only one turnover in 37 minutes. “Pretty much I just tried to
have confidence in myself. Come through the game, coming into the game, just have confidence. It is my
first NCAA Tournament, you know, just try to be confident”, said Snider.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino spoke highly of his point guard saying, “He was thrown into a very difficult
situation. But he makes our guys better, he gets into the lane and he doesn’t have any fear at all. And
he’s getting better at the defensive end and doing some good, real good things. I’m very proud of him.
It’s been a long relationship with him.”
The game was a struggle for the higher seeded Cardinals, as has many of the first round games for the
higher seeds. However, this one was defined by three huge plays Louisville made in the last minute.
Blackshear and Snider not only played great games, but also made the two biggest plays of the game for
the Cardinals. With less than a minute remaining and U of L trailing 55 – 53, Blackshear drove strong to
the basket and finished with a lay in over the Anteaters massive 7-foot- six center, Mamadoe Ndiaye.
Blackshear was asked about the impact playing against the tallest player in the NCAA and he said, “It
was a little tricky, but we know that, yeah, he’s the tallest player in the college basketball game. But our
thing was just to get reversals and just try to attack. We know that his reaction was kind of slow, so
Terry drove one time, and obviously I drove to the basket a couple times. But we just had to attack
those guys and close out, and that’s what we did.”
Then with 14 seconds remaining Snider grabbed a loose ball rebound in the corner after Luke Nelson
missed a three pointer. Snider was pushed out of bounds and went to the free throw line with only nine
seconds left in a 55 – 55 game. Snider calmly stepped to the line and drained both free throws.
Terry Rozier finished with 12 points. He once again had trouble getting good shots off, but made the
last big play the Cardinals needed to close the game for his team. With one last chance, UC Irvine’s
dribbled the ball and had it stolen by Rozier. The Cardinals would survive to the round of 32.
Louisville advances on to play the No. 5 seed Northern Iowa Panthers. The Cards will have to play much
better to beat the 31 – 3 Panthers. The game will be played Sunday at approximately 9:40 or 30 minutes
after the first game ends. The winner will advance to the Sweet 16 in Syracuse.