(15) Pittsburgh 63

(23-7, 12-4 Big East)

(7) Louisville 69

(29-3, 14-2 Big East)

    8:00 PM ET, March 9, 2009

    1 2 T
    #15PITT 31 3263
    #7LOU 41 2869

    Top Performers

    Pittsburgh: S. Zellous 24 Pts, 4 Reb, 1 Ast

    Louisville: A. McCoughtry 31 Pts, 14 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    McCoughtry's 31 help Louisville hold off Pittsburgh in Big East semis

    Associated Press

    HARTFORD, Conn. -- For the second straight year, Louisville and Connecticut will meet in the Big East championship game.

    The Cardinals (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) aren't scared of the big, bad Huskies, even after losing to the No. 1 team in the country by 35 points earlier this season.

    "This is a great opportunity," Louisville star Angel McCoughtry said. "UConn is a very, very good team. We're going to come out and play our best."

    Hays: Bingham Brings Calm

    Candyce Bingham's level-headed leadership just might lead Louisville to a No. 1 seed, writes Graham Hays. Story

    McCoughtry scored 31 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to help Louisville (29-3) hold off Pittsburgh (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) 69-63 on Monday night setting up the championship rematch.

    The unbeaten Huskies routed Villanova 72-42 in the other semifinal.

    "It's going to be a battle for us," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "We're going to play hard. I'm excited for these kids, how they are playing down the stretch."

    It's only the third meeting between the top two seeds in the Big East tournament in the last 11 years. The No. 2 seeds won both the previous meetings.

    Trailing 63-62 with 1:40 left, McCoughtry's three-point play gave Louisville a two-point edge with 1:12 left.

    "We knew we could get a basket," McCoughtry said. "Coach is a genius and he called the right play and we got the and-one."

    After a turnover by Xenia Stewart, McCoughtry hit a pull-up jumper from the wing with 23.5 seconds remaining to make it 67-63.

    Deseree Byrd hit two free throws for the final margin.

    It was the second straight game that came down to the end for Louisville. The Cardinals beat Rutgers in double overtime in the quarterfinals. McCoughtry had seven points in the second overtime to secure the win.

    "No, I don't live for these moments," McCoughtry said laughing. "I'd much rather blow people out."

    Shavonte Zellous scored 24 points to lead Pittsburgh (23-7).

    "We fought back and went ahead and I thought we were going to win the game," Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said. "In the second half we played really, really well."

    Trailing by 10 at the break, Pittsburgh rallied to within one behind Zellous. She scored seven points as the Panthers opened the second half with a 14-4 run to cut the deficit to 46-45.

    McCoughtry and Louisville answered scoring the next eight points to make it 54-45 with 11:06 left in the game.

    Pitt wasn't done, going on a 18-8 burst to take a 63-62 lead -- its first lead since early in the first half. Pepper Wilson, who had a career-high 16 points, hit back-to-back layups to cap the run and give the Panthers the edge.

    "They are the No. 5 [AP] team in the country and it gives us a lot of confidence we can compete with any team in the country," Wilson said. "We can use it as motivation for the NCAA tournament."

    It was the 19th time in her career that McCoughtry has scored 30 points or more in a game.

    Last season, the Cardinals were a seven seed and upset Rutgers in the quarterfinals before beating West Virginia in the semis. Louisville gave Connecticut all it could handle losing 65-59 in the championship.

    Buoyed by that strong finish, and with most of the team returning, Louisville was expected to challenge Connecticut in the Big East regular season. However when the Cardinals went up to Storrs in late January, the Huskies routed them 93-58.

    Louisville was the second seed this year in the tournament and had a bye until the quarterfinals.

    Third-seeded Pittsburgh made it to this round by edging DePaul 62-59 on Sunday night. Pitt faced Louisville on Feb 28 at the Cardinals' senior day. Louisville won 75-51 as Candyce Bingham scored 26 points.

    She only had 11 in the semis.

    In the first half Monday, Louisville struggled early on and was trailing 14-13 before going on a 12-2 run to take a 25-16 advantage. McCoughtry had six points during the burst.

    Pittsburgh then scored six straight to make it a three-point game. But Louisville rebuilt its double-digit margin rattling off 11 of the next 12 points and led 41-31 at the half.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 63 69
    FG Made-Attempted 20-54 (.370) 25-51 (.490)
    3P Made-Attempted 5-19 (.263) 2-7 (.286)
    FT Made-Attempted 18-25 (.720) 17-23 (.739)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (0/0) 19 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 1 13

    Game Leaders

    PointsS. Zellous 24A. McCoughtry 31
    ReboundsS. Sallard 5A. McCoughtry 14
    AssistsX. Stewart 5D. Byrd 6
    StealsX. Stewart 4C. Bingham 5
    BlocksS. Wilson 1C. Bingham 1

    2008-09 Season

    Feb 28, 2009 @LOU 75, PITT 51Recap | Box Score
    » Mar 9, 2009 @LOU 69, PITT 63Recap | Box Score