Final - OT
  for this game

Young, Pittsburgh knock off Louisville in OT

Mar 14, 2008 - 5:30 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Thanks to Sam Young, Pittsburgh is halfway toward another appearance in the Big East Conference championship game.

Young scored 21 points and DeJuan Blair added 16 and eight rebounds as Pittsburgh captured a hard-fought battle with No. 13 Louisville, 76-69, in overtime in the Big East tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.

Levance Fields and Ronald Ramon chipped in 13 points apiece for the Panthers (24-9), who advanced to face No. 24 Marquette in the semifinals on Friday.

"It's a great win for us," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "(We) played hard, thought we battled through some things. We had the foul trouble early and got performances by everybody."

Although it is the seventh seed in the 12-team event, it is not a surprise that Pittsburgh has advanced this far. The Panthers have appeared in six of the last seven title games, winning their only championship in 2003.

Meanwhile, Louisville became the first No. 2 seed since 2001 to fail to reach the semifinals.

"As most Big East basketball games, it was hard-fought," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We just went cold at the wrong time, even with tip-ins and layups toward the end. Our guys did a good job of fighting back to get into overtime. Sometimes it's just all about making shots."

After Fields could not break a 62-62 tie with a shot from deep in the left corner at the end of regulation, Pittsburgh took over in overtime by hitting the line. The Panthers went a perfect 10-of-10 from the stripe in the extra session to bounce the Cardinals from the tournament for the third straight year.

Blair and Ramon both sank a pair of foul shots inside the opening two minutes of overtime. The freshman forward then found Ramon on a cut down the lane that ended in an uncontested layup after the senior guard snatched the ball away from the defense, making it 68-64 with 1:58 to play.

"I was just trying to make a play," Ramon said. "DeJuan has the ball on the top of the key and it was the nine, we ran the play a few times and they adjusted. So I tried to back cut. DeJuan made a great pass. Guys were in the paint, trying to dig the ball. So the ball got loose and they were all trying to go for the ball once I got it. So (it was a) wide-open layup."

Despite finishing 3-of-12 from the field, Fields added a runner that rolled in, making it 70-64 with 1:06 left.

Young, who scored 12 points in the second half, then converted a pair of free throws and Fields added four down the stretch to seal the win - Pittsburgh's fifth in its last six games.

After going 5-of-12 on free throws in the first half, Pittsburgh converted 17-of-20 after intermission en route to finishing 22-of-32.

Earl Clark had a big game for Louisville (24-8) before fouling out in overtime. The Cardinals' sixth man, the sophomore swingman finished with 19 points and nine rebounds.

Second-leading scorer Terrence Williams managed only five points, going 2-of-10 from the field for Louisville, which will enter the NCAA Tournament with consecutive losses after dropping a showdown at Georgetown for the Big East regular-season crown on Saturday.

Pittsburgh was expected to be in the mix for that regular-season title, getting selected fourth in the preseason poll before injuries to Fields and Mike Cook in December spoiled any title hopes.

However, the Panthers are hitting their stride now, and probably have wrapped up their seventh consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament.

"I don't think anybody knew what to make of our team with all the injuries," Dixon said. "This is a team that had to change in midstream, three, four times in what they were doing. We have and we're just getting better and better. But these guys are the the guys that made the plays, so you need to talk to them about what they did."

One constant through the injury-filled campaign was the play of Blair, who finished 5-of-6 from the field and 6-of-8 at the line despite being plagued by some foul troubles.

The freshman ended up outplaying Louisville's David Padgett, who finished with 11 points and eight boards.

"I have tremendous confidence in him, I always have," Dixon said of Blair. "He got in some foul trouble, got double-teamed. There's some things he's going to get used to and it's happening more and more the better and better he gets. He just got some foul trouble. But again, 16 points, eight rebounds against (one) of the best big guys in the country says a lot about him."