The Cards and Bobcats played a back and forth game all night and finished in that fashion as the Cards pulled away for a 59-54 victory.
The game was tied at 43-43 inside the final five minutes when D.J. Cooper stepped up for Ohio and went on a run. The guard hit a huge three and came back with an old fashioned three-point play to give the visiting team a six-point lead.
Down six with 3:30 to go the Cards seniors answered the call. Kyle Kuric hit a three pointer, Chris Smith hit a pair of free throws, Kuric hit another three and Smith made a layup to put the Cards up by two.
Freshman Chane Behanan brought the house down with a monstrous dunk, but the crowd was quieted by another deep three-pointer from Cooper that brought Ohio within one point of the Cards. Peyton Siva, back from an ankle injury, sunk a pair of free throws and Behanan picked up two points at the line to put it out of reach.
The Cards victory was their first real test of the season and their ability to finish the game was huge. Although Gorgui Dieng did not score down the stretch for the Cards he proved all night to be a huge asset and the player of the game. The sophomore big man hit the boards with authority picking up 16 rebounds, 10 of which came on the offensive glass. He finished with a double-double scoring 10 points.
Ohio’s bench saw significantly more minutes than the Cards bench and outscored them 29-to-10, but the starting five was back together for the Cards with the return of Siva and down the stretch the starters proved too much for Ohio.
Russ Smith and Jared Swopshire saw the only significant minutes for the Cards reserves and Russ led the Louisville bench with seven points and proved as usual that there isn’t a shot on the floor that he wont take. Russ was 2-of-10 from the field, but hustled on defense and did not turn the ball over, a big step toward more significant minutes down the road.
Ohio did spread the ball around on offense, but Cooper highlighted their show. Cooper attempted eleven three-pointers and made just three, but got it going offensively and put up six strait points inside the last five minutes.
Coming into the game we knew that Ohio could score the ball and that the Cards had struggled to put consistency together on the offensive end. The Cards just got by the Bobcats Friday, but will need to find more consistency going forward this season.
The Cards were able to get to the line, making of 14-of-22 from the stripe to Ohio’s 4-of-8 and that advantage turned out to be the difference in the game. Again the defense stepped up and held down the opposition, something that will carry the Cards to a number of victories this season as they look to improve on the offensive end.
Up next on the schedule for the Cards is Long Beach State on Monday at the KFC Yum! Center. StraitCards will preview the match up with the 49ers.