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Padgett's late free throws sink Pittsburgh

Feb 24, 2008 - 10:08 PM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- David Padgett scored a season-high 21 points - including three late free throws - to lift No. 23 Louisville to a 75-73 victory over Pittsburgh in Big East Conference action Sunday.

Edgar Sosa poured in 18 points for the Cardinals (22-6, 12-3 Big East), who collected their seventh straight win.

"We usually win with defense, but tonight we won with offense," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "I think we had good execution (and) Padgett played some tough minutes tonight."

After a closely played first half in which Louisville led 42-36, DeJuan Blair and Sam Young scored all the points for Pittsburgh (19-8, 7-7) during a 12-7 stretch that left the Panthers down just 49-48.

Louisville responded with a basket from Terrence Williams and free throw by Derrick Caracter to extend the lead to 52-48. But Ronald Ramon hit his first 3-pointer of the game to cut the deficit to 52-51 with 12:07 remaining.

Sosa sparked a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer to give Louisville its biggest advantage of the contest at 59-51 at the 8:21 mark.

"Every time we made a run, they had an answer," Young said. "Give them some credit, because they're a good team who's very tough to defend. But some of that's on us, too. We have to do a better job of getting a stop when we need one."

Blair and Young countered again, scoring the first seven points during a 17-11 stretch that brought the Panthers back within 70-68 with 38 seconds left in the game.

After each team called a timeout, Padgett was fouled and hit 1-of-2 free throws. Blair was fouled on the next possession to trim the deficit to 71-70 with 22 seconds remaining.

Padgett, who entered the game shooting just 61.4 percent from the foul line, was fouled again on the subsequent possession and calmly hit both attempts.

"Padgett was great," Blair said. "He did an excellent job today."

Blair was unable to answer with a hook shot in the lane and Andre McGee hit a pair of insurance free throws to extend the lead to 75-70 with six seconds left.

"It was a pick-and-roll and then a pop off," Blair said. "Levance (Fields) made a great pass to me; I just missed the shot. It was very makable, I just left it short. No excuses."

McGee's free throws were needed, as Ramon hit a 3-pointer as time expired to account for the final margin.

Louisville won despite forcing just four turnovers, leading to a 15-3 disadvantage in points off miscues. However, the Cardinals held the Panthers to 29 percent (6-for-21) shooting from the arc.

"I thought our offense was very good," Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said. "Four turnovers against a very good pressing team says a lot of what you need to know right there. I thought we also attacked the zone pretty well, and got some good looks. We'll just need to knock those down going (forward)."

Blair and Young each scored 20 points for the Panthers, who have lost three straight games for the first time since the 2004-05 season. They also fell to 3-3 in games decided by three points or less.

"If I knew why we kept dropping so many close games, I think we'd be winning," Young said. "I guess really it's just a combination of things. The main thing though is that we have to get better as a team."