Tied at 41 points with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, Louisville went on a 10-0 run over the next three minutes and held on for a 65-53 win over DePaul Wednesday night at Freedom Hall. Louisville was led by 15 points from freshman Terrence Williams, who also had six rebounds and five assists.
"This was a great team effort by our guys," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "They played terrific. DePaul has played a lot of people really tough. They're a good ball control team and our guys played good defense and rebounded much better tonight."
Louisville senior guard Taquan Dean broke the school-record for career three-pointers in the second half, hitting two threes to push his career total to 325. Dean was honored after the game as the Player of the Game.
Playing without starting center David Padgett, who is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, Louisville still managed to out-work the Blue Demons with a combination of reserve center Terrance Farley and freshman power forward Brian Johnson.
"We out-rebounded them 39-31 and shot 44 percent and still came out with 16 offensive rebounds. They did a terrific job, our guys. We had 16 assists and held them to six. We played excellent defense, excellent rebound and got terrific play by so many players."
The Cardinals' 10-0 run began with 8:53 remaining in the game on a dunk from freshman Chad Millard. A lay-up by reserve center Terrance Farley put Louisville ahead, 45-41. On Louisville's next possession, Farley was fouled under the basket by DePaul's Marlon Brumfield and hit 1-2 free throws. The rebound from Farley's missed free throw ricocheted off three players before being tipped by Millard to Williams who quickly found guard Brandon Jenkins beyond the arc for a three.
Now up 49-41, Williams hit a running lay-up on the break to put U of L ahead by 10, 51-41. DePaul went more than four minutes without a point before forward Wilson Chandler hit a jumper at the 6:10 mark to cut the lead back down to eight.
Chandler would hit another jumper before Dean drove the lane for a lay-up with 5:06 remaining to put Louisville back in front by eight, 53-45. A three by DePaul's Draelon Burns cut the Cardinal lead to five, but that was close as the Blue Demons would get the rest of the way, hitting just one field goal over the final three minutes of the game.
Louisville, now 5-8 in the Big East, kept hope alive for a post-season appearance with Wednesday night's win. The Cardinals started the night thirteenth in the Big East standings, with only the top four teams in the conference making the post-season tournament in Madison Square Garden, March 8-11.
"Winning 3 out of 4 is our goals for the end of the season," Pitino said. "It's the same as it was three weeks ago, it's just a little more difficult to win those closing opportunities. That's our goal and tonight we played a great basketball game in all phases of the game.
"We made smart plays and made our free throws, got rebounds and played smart defense in crucial situations. I'm very happy for our guys because they got some rewards for working hard, very hard. As you can see by the way we're playing we're not looking forward to next year. Our time is now, we're going to keep playing that way."
Louisville has three games left on the regular season schedule starting with Saturday's trip to West Virginia. The Cardinals host Marquette next Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. before closing the season with a road-trip to No. 3 Connecticut on March 4.