By Dalton Ray–
Leading for only eight minutes, seven-seed Michigan upset two-seed Louisville 73-69. The Wolverines used a 45-point second half to shock the Cardinals in Indianapolis.
Coach Rick Pitino said his team played well, but fell short in one area.
“We’ve lost games this year, but because of effort … because mentally, we have a tough time focusing on what to do defensively. That cost us the game tonight, ” Pitino said. “(Michigan) made a lot of big shots, give them credit. They were the better team down the stretch.”
On 11-of-14 shooting, Michigan’s Mortiz Wagner carried the Wolverines with 26 points. For U of L, sophomore Donovan Mitchell scored 19 points and fellow sophomore Deng Adel added 16. The pair combined for 12 rebounds, seven assists and hit all five of U of L’s threes.
Kicking off the game, Mitchell buried a step-back three in transition. With an up-and-down, clean pace, Louisville held a 17-14 lead at the 11:49 mark in the first half. Senior Mangok Mathiang continued his hot play, scoring five early.
Scoring came to a halt with under 10 minutes left to play. Adel erased the dull play with an empathetic dunk over Michigan’s DJ Wilson with five minutes remaining in the half.
The Wolverines went on a 8-3 run to tie the game at 28. Louisville answered with back-to-back threes from Mitchell and Adel, ending the half on an 8-0 run.
With the arrival of halftime, Adel led Louisville with 10 points. Mitchell, 3-for-8, pitched in eight points and five rebounds. Michigan shot 16-for-29 from three in the first round, but shot 3-for-11 in the first half against U of L.
Mathiang and Anas Mahmoud accounted for six points in the opening minutes of the second half, helping Louisville gain a 45-36 lead five minutes in.
Michigan answered by hitting eight of nine shots to cut the Louisville’s lead to 49-46. Wagner scored eight of Michigan first 14 points of the half.
UM took their second lead of the game with eight minutes remaining at 53-51. A combination of Louisville’s sputtering offense and Michigan’s scoring surge, the momentum flipped in UM’s favor. In the final media break, Michigan claimed a 63-59 lead with 3:36 to play.
Missed 3-pointers from Mitchell and Snider took the air out of Louisville fans in the building. An uncontested lay-up from Wagner put Michigan up six with 1:18 to play.
Adel converted on a tough basket and sophomore Ray Spalding stole the in-bound pass and found Mitchell for a lay-in, cutting the lead to two.
A lay-up from UM’s Derrick Walton Jr. with 29 seconds remaining was the final straw for U of L.
Michigan’s Wilson hit four free throws down the stretch to ice the game. A block of Mitchell’s three capped the game.
Junior Quentin Snider went scoreless on 0-for-9 shooting. Senior Mangok Mathiang scored 13 points and grabbed four rebounds in the final game of his career.
“I have no regrets. I feel like the team fought real hard,” Mathiang said. “(The team) gave their coach and teammates everything they had.”
The Cardinals finish the year with a 25-9 record.
Photos by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville Cardinal