|Long Beach State's Larry Anderson, right, tries to get around the defense of Louisville's Kyle Kuric during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)|
LBSU trails early in loss to No. 6 Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Casper Ware and Long Beach State already have a road victory against a ranked Big East opponent this year. No. 6 Louisville never gave them a chance for another by pressing the pace from the start.
Chris Smith scored 18 points and the Cardinals got out to a quick lead early in a 79-66 victory on Monday night.
"We started on the road down 8-0 and it looked like five freshmen out there instead of four seniors. To me, that was a disappointing start," 49ers coach Dan Monson said. "We only have these opportunities so often
Louisville (6-0) scored the first eight points of the game and took a double-digit lead early in the first half, but couldn't pull away from Long Beach State (3-3) until the closing minute even though the 49ers never got closer than five points in the second half.
Freshman Chane Behanan had 13 points and seven rebounds for Louisville, which has dealt with multiple injuries so far and was without another player when reserve guard Elisha Justice didn't dress after he broke his nose. Cardinals coach Rick Pitino wanted Louisville to play fast throughout the game, but his team began to get tired in the second half.
"They're traveling more than an NBA team. They're like the Harlem Globetrotters," Pitino said. "We wanted to press them, we wanted to run them and they were coming from Montana, probably not a private charter, and the rain and the connections (from) Montana."
Larry Anderson scored 17 points for the 49ers before fouling out.
Long Beach State trailed 55-40 after Jared Swopshire tipped in a miss by Kyle Kuric and Smith found Behanan on a feed down low for a dunk for Louisville. The 49ers rallied with a 9-0 run and Siva picked up his fourth foul in the stretch before Swopshire ended it with a dunk.
Long Beach State answered again, easily breaking Louisville's press as Ware converted a three-point play that cut the Cardinals' lead to 57-52 following a pass from Mike Caffey with 8:35 left.
Smith hit a 3-pointer in the corner and Kuric hit two free throws to stretch the lead back to 65-55 with 5:35 to play. It remained in the range until the end as both teams struggled with foul trouble down the stretch.
"We cut the lead to five and then missed a layup," Ware said. "We were sloppy. We've got to take the pressure and not let it bother us and use it to our advantage."
Louisville defense was finally tested after the Cardinals came in giving up 46 points per game, third-lowest in the nation, and allowing opponents to shoot 30.7 percent from the field.
The 49ers had 46 points with more than 10 minutes left and had already beaten a Big East team on the road when they defeated then-No. 9 Pittsburgh 86-76 on Nov. 16 for their first win over a top 25 opponent since 1994.
Even though Long Beach State shot 45 percent, the Cardinals forced 21 turnovers while only committing 11 and scored 27 points off the 49ers' mistakes.
"The start got us in a hole. We're fighting from behind. We are usually the ones that comes out and punches people in the mouth," Anderson said. "We had this game if we don't fall behind early. We had that beginning, down 8-0 and we lost by 13. If we don't do that we're right in the game."
Russ Smith and Siva finished with 11 points apiece and Swopshire had 10 for Louisville. Ware, the reigning Big West player of the year, finished with 13 points and eight assists, while T.J. Robinson and James Ennis scored 12 each for the 49ers.
"We have a good bunch of guys, it was just about execution," Ware said. "We didn't execute."