When Louisville took down #4 ranked Pittsburgh in a Big East contest on Sunday, it was despite the early celebration of its cheerleaders who almost cost the team a much needed victory.
With the game in OT and less than a second left on the clock. Kyle Kuric, the #16 ranked Cardinals' forward sank a three-point shot to take the score to 62-57. It sure looked like Pittsburgh was sunk, losing a big opportunity to clinch the Big East conference title. Then, some deliriously happy members of the Cardinals' cheer team did the unthinkable.
They rushed the court and one in particular took delight in grabbing the basketball and tossing it in the air. Unaware that the game was not yet over, the young man was the cause of a delay of game penalty that resulted in a technical foul being assessed that gave Pittsburgh two shots and the ball back. The game clock was reset to show .5 seconds. Pitt’s Ashton Gibbs put in the two free throws making the score 62-59 giving his team a long shot at tying up the contest with a three-pointer to take it to a second overtime.
The attempt was missed and the Cardinals heaved a sigh of relief as they left the court. The Associated Press reported that Louisville's coach, Rick Pitino was a bit unhappy after it was all said and done, despite the victory. “All good things have to come to an end, and the male cheerleader (at Louisville) comes to an end,” joked Louisville coach Rick Pitino. “Hopefully he’ll learn the rules.” Ouch.
Pittsburgh (22-7, 11-5 Big East) will inevitably slip in the new rankings that come out this week but it is more concerned about the big picture. With their conference lead down to one game over Notre Dame, the Panthers have to win their final two games this week to clinch its top spot in the Big East. They travel to play South Florida and end the season at home on Saturday against Villanova. Notre Dame beat Pitt earlier this season and would own the tie-breaker should it come to that.
“This is a tough loss for us,” said Brad Wanamaker. “Now we have to win out to win the Big East. We caught them out of sync a little bit in the second half but we just couldn’t make some shots and didn’t finish strong in overtime.” Wanamaker a junior forward who had swatted away a dunk by the Cardinals' Kyle Kuric that got his team to OT in the first place, was unable to keep Kuric from sinking the three that ultimately was the difference in the game.
Pittsburgh was not the only top-ranked team in the nation who went down to defeat this weekend. Following a trend that has picked up steam in the past couple of weeks, #1 ranked Duke fell to Virginia Tech, #6 San Diego State lost to BYU and Jimmer Freddette and #5 Texas lost to Colorado after coughing up a big lead only to lost by two points.
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