for this game

Williams helps Louisville hold off Marquette

Mar 1, 2009 - 9:51 PM LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- The absence of senior guard Dominic James and a poor performance from Jerel McNeal was too much for Marquette to overcome.

Terrence Williams recorded 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to help No. 6 Louisville hold off the 10th-ranked Golden Eagles, 62-58, on Sunday.

Andre McGee added 16 points and Earl Clark finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Cardinals, (23-5, 14-2 Big East), who held McNeal to just 10 points on 3-of-19 shooting.

"We did not want to give him (McNeal) the three," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We knew he was going to beat us off the dribble. We rotated pretty well."

McNeal entered the game averaging 20.0 points overall this season and 23.0 points in Big East Conference play.

"He (McNeal) didn't make many shots. But we will still let him shoot them," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said.

"He is the guy that we want to shoot the ball. A lot of that is not necessarily Jerel - a lot of that is credited to Louisville's defense with their length, athleticism and the players. We want to say that it was a great defensive effort by Louisville."

The strong defensive effort helped propel the Cardinals to their fifth straight win. Louisville can clinch at least a share of the Big East regular-season title by winning its final two games.

Williams has been the catalyst during the winning streak. The senior forward was slowed by a sprained wrist earlier this month, but is back to full strength.

"He (Williams) is playing well," said Pitino, who donned his trademark white suit in honor of his late mother-in-law.

Wesley Matthews scored 19 points for the Golden Eagles (23-6, 12-4, Big East), who shot a season-low 33 percent (19-of-56) and were without James (fractured foot).

James, who suffered the injury in Wednesday's loss to No. 2 Connecticut, was the Golden Eagles' fourth-leading scorer at 11.7 points per game and led the team in assists (5.3).

Marquette managed to put up quite a fight despite the absence of James and the poor showing from McNeal. McNeal hit a 3-pointer to make it 55-49 with 5:18 remaining, and Lazar Hayward connected on a 3-pointer to make it 57-52 with 4:3l to play.

Hayward, who finished with 16 points, hit another 3-pointer to pull the Golden Eagles within 61-58 with 26 seconds left. But it was too little, too late.

Louisville's Samardo Samuels hit one of two free throws to make it a four-point game with 22 ticks left.

Matthews launched a leaning 3-pointer and drew contact, but no foul was called and Samuels gathered the rebound to seal the win.

Williams scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half in leading the Cardinals to a 28-25 lead at the break.

Marquette withstood an early 10-1 second-half Louisville spurt and countered with a 12-3 run of its own to pull within 41-38. The Golden Eagles never led in the second half.

"The thing about Louisville is they constantly keep you out of rhythm," Williams said. "They constantly keep your pace changing to reflect the manner that they want you to play."