Louisville shuts down Cincinnati to win Big East Championship

Louisville Cardinals guard Peyton Siva cuts down the net after winning the championship game, 50-44, against the Cincinnati Bearcats of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden March 10 (Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE).


In a game that may have reminded viewers of LSU's 9-6 victory over Alabama last November in the "Game of the Century," the Louisville Cardinals held off the Cincinnati Bearcats 50-44 last night to claim the Big East Tournament Championship in Madison Square Garden.

The win netted Louisville's Rick Pitino his second Big East tournament in four years and 10th conference tournament overall as a head coach. The Cardinals won both the Big East regular season and conference tournament in 2008-09.

Louisville's Peyton Siva, who overcame a bout of lackluster play late in the regular season, scored 10 points and earned tournament MVP honors. Cincinnati's Cashmere Wright led all scorers with 16 points. Chris Smith led Louisville players with 15 points.

The tournament, which routinely has produced high-energy and high-scoring contests over its history, was marked by marked this year by less than stellar shooting percentages and wining point totals in the 50s and 60s. As the conference prepares to embark on a new era, the five-day event noticeably lacked some of the luster that has characterized it in the past.

The conference now quickly turns its attention to the NCAA tournament, which featured a record 11 Big East teams in the 2011 field. The selection committee, led by former Connecticut AD Jeff Hathaway, will announce its decision later today. Several conference teams are "on the bubble" and could edge out mid-major schools based on strength of schedule.

In other news ...

Gorgui Dieng put an exclamation point on his tournament play.

St. John's Moe Harkless, who earned Big East Rookie of the Year honors is expected to enter the NBA draft.

Future Big East member Memphis defeated Marshall to win the Conference USA tournament championship.

The Big East is playing the money game by making football-based decisions.

Check back at Big East Coast Bias later in day for reports on NCAA Tournament selections and seedings. For more on last night's game, visit Card Chronicle and Down the Drive.

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