Washington's Tournament Run Falls Short With Loss To Louisville

March 24, 2005

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AP Sports Writer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Undoubtedly, Louisville would rather play anothergame than be a No. 1 seed in the tournament.

Francisco Garcia went on a shooting tear Thursday night to keep theCardinals moving on, leading Rick Pitino and underrated, fourth-seededLouisville to a 93-79 victory over top-seeded Washington in the AlbuquerqueRegional semifinals.

This was billed as a matchup between Washington (29-5), the team trying toprove it really did deserve a top seed, and Louisville (32-4), the team thatcouldn't believe it was only a No. 4.

Garcia finished with 23 points - including three 3-pointers during a 14-0run in the second half - to help the Cardinals end the debate.

Meanwhile, Washington's top two scorers, Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons,languished on the bench with three fouls for a big chunk of the first half.Robinson picked up his third at the 8:51 mark and Simmons picked up his thirdwith 3:50 left, which is exactly when Garcia started the run that putLouisville ahead 45-32.

The teams traded buckets through much of the second half, and things gotchippy when Louisville's Larry O'Bannon went down in a heap with JamaalWilliams and Bobby Jones of Washington. O'Bannon appeared to tap Williams withhis foot while Williams was down and the Huskies got angry.

Robinson responded with a steal and dunk and Hakeen Rollins madeback-to-back baskets to pull Washington within 67-61.

But less than two minutes later, Garcia hit his fifth 3-pointer to make it76-65 and the Cardinals never let the lead fall below double digits the rest ofthe way.

Robinson finished with eight points on 1-for-7 shooting - 0-for-5 from3-point range - and Simmons went 3-for-6 for 10 points.

The guards, each averaging more than 16 points this season, struggledmightily in the second half, unable to shake the effects of sitting on thebench for such a long time earlier. Williams, who averaged nine points thisseason, finished with 18, Brandon Roy had 15 and Will Conroy had 14 points andeight assists to keep the Huskies within reach.

But neutralizing the Huskies guards was the key, and Pitino deserves a tipof the hat for that. The veteran coach with 448 career wins and four trips tothe Final Four, mercilessly worked the officials over the first 9{ minutes,while the Cardinals were picking up six fouls.

Louisville only committed two more fouls the rest of the half while bothSimmons and Robinson - neither of them foul prone - found themselves on thebench.

Thus ended a remarkably nice run for the Huskies, who won the Pac-10tournament and surprised everyone but themselves when they picked up their topseeding. This was their first trip to the regional semifinals since 1998, butthe Huskies will have to wait to make the Final Four; they haven't been theresince 1953.

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