|Louisville' Gorgui Dieng, left, gets a shot off over the defense of Ohio University's TyQuane Goard during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)|
Ohio falls short in 59-54 loss to No. 7 Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Ohio coach John Groce wanted a victory. He believed the Bobcats could beat No. 7 Louisville for the first road win against a top-10 opponent in school history.
They nearly pulled it off. Only, that wasn't good enough.
"He told us we strive for excellence. We didn't come here to play close. We are not into moral victories," said Reggie Keely, who scored 11 points in the Bobcats' 59-54 loss. "I hope we can learn from this."
Ohio held a six-point lead with under 4 minutes to play before Louisville rallied for the victory in the Global Sports Invitational on Friday night. Kyle Kuric scored 16 points for the Cardinals, and Gorgui Dieng grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds.
"Give credit to Louisville. We shot ourselves in the foot with a couple of turnovers," Keely said. "We tried to take away their 3-pointer shooter, Kuric. He made a big shot when he had to."
Kuric hit a 3 in the corner, made a key steal and helped find Chris Smith for a fast-break layup that gave Louisville a 53-51 lead with 1:49 left.
After a dunk by Chane Behanan, Ohio's D.J. Cooper hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 55-54, but T.J. Hall and Cooper missed 3s in the closing seconds that would've tied the game.
Louisville (5-0), which has won 13 straight at the KFC Yum! Center, got a lift from the surprise return of point guard Peyton Siva, who missed the previous two games with a severely sprained left ankle.
The bigger surprise appeared to be the Bobcats, who came close to springing the upset.
Ohio (3-1) made two comebacks in the second half, including erasing a nine-point deficit to tie it at 41 with 5:12 left after Walter Offutt scored twice down low before Hall hit a 3-pointer that had Louisville coach Rick Pitino calling timeout.
The Bobcats weren't done.
Kuric missed a jumper and Cooper hit a 3 to give Ohio its first lead in more than 21 minutes, 46-43. After another Louisville miss, Cooper followed with a three-point play that left teammate Stevie Taylor pointing to the sky in delight.
"When we got hit in the mouth, we did not flinch and stayed the course," Groce said. "I think that is why we were in position near the end but just couldn't close it out."
The Cardinals promptly battled back, putting together a 9-0 run to take a 55-51 lead. Smith hit two free throws and had the tiebreaking fast-break layup during the spurt.
Cooper hit a 27-foot 3-pointer that cut it to one, but Siva hit two free throws and neither Hall nor Cooper could hit 3s on Ohio's final chance to tie. Behanan hit two free throws for the final margin and finished with 11 points.
Cooper scored 16 for the Bobcats, who had one of the better performances against Louisville's defense, which continues to throttle opponents by allowing an average of 46 points over the first five games. The Cardinals outrebounded Ohio 42-34, including 21-16 on the offensive end.
"They are very hard to score against. I knew that coming in," Groce said. "I thought the key to the game would be our ability to get stops and rebound the ball. At the end of the day, if they asked me why I thought we got beat, I would have to say that it had to be the fact that they were plus eight on the glass."