Louisville rallies into national title game with win over Wichita State

Luke Hancock and the Cardinals are headed to the national final. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Luke Hancock and the Cardinals are headed to the national final. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Louisville, the NCAA tournament’s top overall seed, played to its lofty expectations on Saturday night by earning a berth in the national title game for the first time since 1986. But the Cardinals hardly stuck to the script in rallying past ninth-seeded Wichita State, 72-68.

Louisville didn’t score before the first media timeout and fell behind by 12 points in the second half before setting the comeback in motion. The heroes included walk-on Tim Henderson and George Mason transfer Luke Hancock.

Henderson, playing in place of injured Kevin Ware, hit back-to-back three-pointers after scoring 16 points in his first 25 appearances this season. Hancock hit for 20 points off the bench — the most he’s ever scored in a regulation college game — and sealed the victory when he forced a held ball in the final seconds off his own missed free throw.

Russ Smith finished with 21 points to continue his strong run through the tournament.

 

Bidding to become the first No. 9 seed to reach the national final, Wichita State took care of the ball and preserved its advantage into the final minutes in large part by knocking down 18 of 24 free throws. But two key calls went against the Shockers late, including a bizarre double foul and the questionable tie-up caused by Hancock.
Ware

 

Either way, Louisville marches on to meet the winner of the next semifinal between Michigan and Syracuse on Monday night in Atlanta. The Cardinals get to continue what has been an emotional tournament run.

Ware

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