By Sam Draut–
For the fifth time in the past seven years, Louisville is headed to the Elite Eight.
The Cardinals defeated N.C. State 75-65 Friday night to play for the opportunity at a Final Four.
Montrezl Harrell worked around the rim all night, scoring 24 points on nine of 12 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds and adding four assists.
After Trevor Lacey and Anthony “Cat” Barber tore through Louisville’s defense on the Feb. 14 meeting in which N.C. State won 74-65, the backcourt battle became the major storyline.
This time, it was the Cardinal backcourt that lifted Louisville to victory.
Terry Rozier had 17 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. In the final few minutes, Rozier scored and was fouled on two fast-break layups to give Louisville control down the stretch.
While Barber struggled shooting three of 14 from the field for eight points, freshman Quentin Snider had 14 points and three assists. Snider played 37 minutes without a turnover.
Barber’s backcourt mate Trevor Lacey scored 18 points on six of 14 shooting from the field.
Wayne Blackshear finished with 10 points, but picked up his fourth foul with 8:31 left as Louisville led 53-48. N.C. State responded and took a 54-53 lead with 7:12 left. As the game held in the balance, Blackshear’s replacement Anton Gill provided a spark.
“I just saw I had an opportunity. We had worked hard all season, and I didn’t want to go home,” Gill said. “By whatever means I’ve got, I just want to try to make something happen.”
Louisville retook the lead when Gill scored on a spinning runner in the lane with 5:40 left. Possessions later, Gill buried a three pointer from the wing. The sophomore guard added another two points on a baseline drive. Gill finished with seven points, shooting 100 percent from the field.
“I was going I was going to put Shaqquan in, and I just thought about that, and he went in and basically won the game for us with his two big plays,” Head Coach Rick Pitino said. “I’m really happy for him when a guy doesn’t get his minutes and doesn’t get his playing time and still shows a great attitude. For him to have this moment, I’m thrilled.”
The Cardinals will face Michigan State Sunday at 2:20 p.m.
Photo by Austin Lassell / The Louisville Cardinal