March 10, 2010
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NEW YORK (AP)-- Cincinnati has rebounded quite well in getting comfortable at the Big East tournament.
The 11th-seeded Bearcats again used a huge advantage on the boards to beat sixth-seeded Louisville 69-66 on Wednesday night to advance to the quarterfinals. They are the only team to play in the opening round still playing, and it was rebounding that keyed both close wins.
"We can rebound the ball when we get shots off," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. "When we get the ball in the paint, we get it on the rim, we can rebound the ball."
The Bearcats (18-14) outrebounded Rutgers 49-31 in their 69-68 victory Tuesday night.
The numbers were even more impressive against the defending champion Cardinals (20-12). The Bearcats outrebounded Louisville 54-33, including 28-9 on the offensive end.
"The point of emphasis tonight was to rebound the basketball," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We rebound, we win. We knew that. We didn't, we lost. We go home early. Wasted a lot of boosters' money."
Even with the decided advantage in corralling missed shots, the game still came to two big moments for senior Deonta Vaughn.
He made two free throws with 5.9 seconds left to make the score 69-66. Then he made the game-saving strip of Edgar Sosa a bout 30 feet from the basket just before the buzzer.
"If you can believe it, we called time out to foul him at half court," Cronin said. "Deonta claims he was fouling him the whole time. I was scared he was finally going to foul him when the shot attempt went up. I was going to be the laughingstock nationally.
"The game plan was to foul him. He couldn't get that shot off. I've seen him make those kinds of shots. He made those shots all night tonight and kept them in the game."
Sosa had 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including going 5 of 6 from 3-point range.
"I didn't feel like he was fouling me," Sosa said. "Coach drew up a play for me to come off the screen and find some of the guys in the corner. I did a bad job. I took too much time off the clock. By the time I got across, there was 2 seconds left. I couldn't find anyone."
Yancy Gates had 16 points for Cincinnati, while fellow freshman Lance Stephenson had 12 as did junior Darnell Wilks.
Reginald Delk hit a 3 with 9.7 seconds left to bring Louisville within 67-66 before Vaughn's free throws made it a three-point game.
Delk had 16 points on 5-of-5 shooting, including making all four of his 3-point attempts.
Pitino didn't look at any positives after the game.
"We were playing for a good seed," he said. "Now we're not going to get one. You can't expect to win giving up 28 offensive rebounds."