Louisville was able to put on a defensive clinic Saturday night, stifling the fourth-seeded Bearcats 50-44 en route to its second Big East Championship.
The Cardinals (27-9, 10-8) jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Louisville went on a 9-0 run early in the first half to take a 14-6 advantage and didn't relinquish it.
Chris Smith led the charge for the Cardinals with 15 points including three baskets from beyond the 3-point arc.
A huge scare was also alleviated when Peyton Siva returned in the second half after landing oddly on his ankle. Siva was injured on a layup attempt and left for the final 3:19 of the first half. He played excellently after returning:
At one point the Cardinals held a 16-point cushion with just over eight minutes remaining before Cincinnati made one last push for glory, only to be turned away. Ultimately free throws cost the Bearcats, who shot a disastrous 1 of 7 from the line.
Cincinnati (24-11, 12-6) was paced by Cashmere Wright, who poured in 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting from the field.
With the Big East Tournament now over, both of these squads can gear up for March Madness. Louisville has as much momentum as any team entering the Big Dance while Cincinnati also has to be feeling pretty good.
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