Friday , Mar , 12 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Cincy holds off Louisville in C-USA

=== Cincy holds off Louisville in C-USA ===

Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) – Armein Kirkland hit the go-ahead basket in
the final seconds and Jason Maxiell scored 15 points to lead No. 13 Cincinnati
to a 64-62 victory over Louisville in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA
Tournament at U.S. Bank Arena.

Kareem Johnson and Tony Bobbitt each scored nine points for the Bearcats
(22-6), who will play Saint Louis in the semifinals. The Billikens upset
Memphis in the quarterfinals.

Kirkland finished with 12 points for the third-seeded Bearcats.

Francisco Garcia scored a career-high 28 points for the sixth-seeded Cardinals
(20-9) on 10-of-14 shooting. Luke Whitehead contributed 12 points and eight
rebounds in a losing effort.

Louisville has played its way onto the NCAA Tournament bubble with losses in
eight of its last 12 games.

Kirkland muscled inside and banked a shot off the glass to snap a 62-62 tie
with 16 seconds left in the contest.

“They had (Taquan) Dean on Armein. I thought we had the better matchup,” said
Bearcats coach Bob Huggins.

“It’s a play we practiced, but never used in a game,” added Kirkland. “We had
a mismatch.”

Louisville decided not to call a timeout and Taquan Dean missed from three-
point range as time expired.

The Cardinals led by two at the break and were still ahead by two, 40-38, with
13 minutes remaining.

A basket by Kirkland tied the game and sparked a 12-3 run that put the
Bearcats in front. Nick Williams hit a three-pointer and Eric Hicks capped the
run with two free throws to give Cincinnati a 50-43 advantage with 7:42

Garcia’s three-pointer cut the Bearcats’ lead to 51-48 with 6 1/2 minutes left
and the game remained tight the rest of the way. Maxiell was called for
goaltending on a layup attempt by Dean with 49 seconds left to tie the game at

Back-to-back three-pointers got the Cardinals off to a 6-2 lead and a pair of
free throws by Brandon Jenkins midway through the first half gave Louisville a
19-11 advantage.

The Bearcats responded with a 12-point burst to take the lead. Hicks dunked to
ignite the run and a jumper by James White with 3 1/2 minutes left before
halftime gave Cincinnati a 20-19 edge. Kirkland’s three-pointer capped the run
for a 23-19 lead.

Whitehead scored the next three points and Nate Daniels buried a three just
before the half ended to give Louisville a 25-23 lead at the break.

Garcia finished 4-of-5 from the field, including 2-of-2 from three-point range
for 10 first-half points.

Hicks and Bobbitt each had five points to lead Cincinnati after 20 minutes of

“You have to give Cincinnati credit, but I am very proud of my guys,” said
Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

Louisville was the defending tournament champion.