University of Louisville

Cards get past Pirates for shot at Marquette

Louisville's Peyton Siva, right, took a shot over Seton Hall's Aaron Cosby during the first half of their quarterfinal game at the Big East Tournament. Siva led the Cards with 14 points.
Louisville's Peyton Siva, right, took a shot over Seton Hall's Aaron Cosby during the first half of their quarterfinal game at the Big East Tournament. Siva led the Cards with 14 points. AP

NEW YORK — Peyton Siva had 14 points and six steals, and Louisville held off Seton Hall 61-55 on Wednesday night to reach the Big East Tournament quarterfinals, leaving the Pirates to sweat out Selection Sunday as they hope for an NCAA Tournament bid.

Kyle Kuric added 13 points and Gorgui Dieng stuffed Seton Hall inside with six blocks and 10 rebounds to help the seventh-seeded Cardinals advance to play ninth-ranked and second-seeded Marquette on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Russ Smith scored five of his 11 down the stretch as Louisville (23-9) thwarted Seton Hall's late charge in its effort to stop a two-game skid.

Jordan Theodore scored 17 and Herb Pope had 11 points and 15 rebounds to lead the 10th-seeded Pirates (20-12), sitting tenuously on the NCAA bubble. Seton Hall shot just 33 percent — including 3-for-19 from three-point range — and lost for the 10th time in its final 15 games.

The victory gave Cardinals Coach Rick Pitino his second win this season over protégé Kevin Willard, who spent six seasons on the Louisville staff as an assistant.

Siva made two steals and a tough bank shot in the first 65 seconds after halftime and sparked a 20-6 second-half run that put Louisville in control.

Kuric's three-pointer made it 48-33 with 9:54 left, but the Pirates — perhaps playing for their NCAA Tournament lives — wouldn't go down easily. They fought back and trimmed it to 59-55 on Theodore's three with 47.9 seconds to go.

Smith hit a free throw, however, and Theodore missed a pair of threes before Kuric added another foul shot with 14.6 seconds remaining.

Theodore led Seton Hall to a 79-47 rout of Providence in the first round Tuesday night, when the Pirates shot 56 percent from the field. The best three-point shooting team in the league, they couldn't sustain it against Louisville's clamp-down defense.

The Cardinals came into the game holding opponents to 37.9 percent shooting from the field — the best mark in the Big East — and they showed why.

After the win over Providence, Willard acknowledged it's always difficult to go up against Pitino, whom the Seton Hall coach twice referred to as a "father figure."

Willard also apprenticed under Pitino with the Boston Celtics. Pitino and Willard's father, Ralph, are longtime friends, and the elder Willard also was a lead assistant for years under Pitino. He sat behind his son's bench, hand on his chin.

"The great thing about Coach Pitino is it doesn't matter what time you call, he'll pick up your phone. He has been tremendous. He was great this year when we were struggling and lost a couple games in a row," Kevin Willard said Tuesday. "He called me twice during that stretch, which is unheard of in this league. I'm very lucky to have him."

Pitino's team this season lacks a big-name star, but the Cardinals get it done with defense.

It was no different early on against the Pirates, who shot 6-for-24 (25 percent) in the first half, including 2-for-10 from long range.

Louisville wasn't much better from the floor at 27.6 percent but went into the break with a 23-22 lead.

Theodore, who sliced his way through the Providence defense for 13 often flashy assists and just one turnover, had no assists and four turnovers at halftime.

In other Big East Tournament action:

No. 13 Georgetown 64, Pittsburgh 52: Senior Henry Sims and freshman Otto Porter each scored 20 points to lead Georgetown past Pittsburgh.

Sims grabbed 13 rebounds for the fifth-seeded Hoyas (23-7), who will play fourth-seeded Cincinnati in the quarterfinals Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Georgetown lost to eventual champion Connecticut in the second round of last year's Big East Tournament.

Ashton Gibbs had 14 points for the 13th-seeded Panthers (17-16), who went through two eight-minute scoring droughts during the game and couldn't recover from Georgetown's 16-2 run to close the first half, giving the Hoyas a 31-23 lead.

Connecticut 71, West Virginia 67: Shabazz Napier scored 26 points and Jeremy Lamb added 22 to lead Connecticut to its 13th straight post-season win.

The victory kept alive the hopes of a second straight Big East title for the Huskies (20-12), who won a record five games in as many days last year and then went on to win six more in earning the school's third national championship.

Kevin Jones had 25 points for the eighth-seeded Mountaineers (19-13), who were playing their last game as a member of the Big East. West Virginia leaves the conference for the Big 12 next season.

Ninth-seeded Connecticut will play top-seeded and second-ranked Syracuse in the quarterfinals Thursday.