By Bryan Mongeau-Eastmond, staff writer
DAYTON, Ohio (RPRN)3/23/09– You don’t have to look hard to see that Terrence Williams has emerged as a real leader for the top-seeded Louisville Cardinals on the basketball court. He is flashy, explosive and fittingly wears No. 1.
Williams rallied his team, scoring 24 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in Louisvilleâ€™s hard-fought 79-72 victory over the Siena Saints on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio.
Louisville (30-5) advances to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year where they will play 12th-seeded Arizona in the Midwest Regional on Friday in Indianapolis. On paper the match up seemed rather predictable however, on the court was an entirely different story. Siena (27-8) overcame a 12-point deficit midway through the second half and led by four.
Players on the Cardinals bench were left scratching their heads over what was taken place. Sensing a huge upset in the making along with the fact that his team was completely rattled, coach Rick Pitino called an important timeout in which he urged his team to step it up.
â€œYou’re the No. 1 team in the country. If you think it’s a cakewalk in this tournament, you’re wrong.â€
Williams answered the call made by his coach by making sounder decisions with the ball and provided better ball-handling skills. The 6-foot-6 senior forward brought steadiness and toughness to the Cardinals frontcourt and once again became the focal point of the Louisville offence.
With time expiring, both the players and their vastly outnumbered Saints fans were slowly accepting the fact that they had come so close but in the end it would not be their year.
Fitting that Williams who got his team back on track would be the one to knock down two crucial free throws with 35 seconds left to put Louisville ahead 76-69 and end any chance at an upset. Edwin Ubiles scored 24 points for the Saints.
With this hard fought victory, coach Pitino has the Louisville Cardinals poised for another deep postseason run in 2008-09.
Other scores around the NCAA tournament
Kansas 60, Dayton 43
Arizona 71, Cleveland State 57
Pittsburgh 84, Oklahoma St. 76
Xavier 60, Wisconsin 49
Syracuse 78, Arizona State 67
Missouri 83, Marquette 79
Michigan State 74, USC 69
Read all of Bryanâ€™s stories here