Tigers Fall To No. 6 Louisville In Conference Finals, 75-74
March 12, 2005
By TERESA M. WALKER
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Memphis freshman Darius Washington Jr. missed two of three free throws with no time left on the clock, allowing No. 6 Louisville to escape with a 75-74 victory and the Conference USA championship on Saturday.
Louisville's Brad Gianiny hit one of two free throws with 6.7 seconds to give Louisville a two-point lead. Washington was fouled by Francisco Garcia while shooting a 3-pointer at the buzzer. He hit the first, prompting his teammates to dance on the court, but then bounced the next two off the rim.
Washington dropped to the floor at the free throw line, covering his head with his hands.
Louisville (29-4) won its second C-USA tournament title in three years. The Cardinals will go into the NCAA tournament on their longest winning streak of the season, with victories in their last nine games and 18 of their last 19.
Garcia finished with 19 points, Taquan Dean and Juan Palacios each had 14 and Palacios had 11 rebounds. Larry O'Bannon finished with 13 for Louisville, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range.
Memphis (19-15) had been the only team to beat the Cardinals in the 19-game stretch, and the Tigers' best hope of playing in the NCAA tournament was winning the conference's automatic bid by winning the tourney.
They nearly pulled it off after winning three games to reach their first C-USA tournament final.
Memphis' Jeremy Hunt tied the game at 71 by hitting a free throw, but missed the second. Louisville got the rebound, but Duane Erwin tipped the ball away from Dean to Washington, who scored on a layup for a 73-71 lead with 42.7 seconds left.
O'Bannon answered with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and was fouled, but missed the free throw for a 74-73 lead with 27 seconds to go.
Hunt was called for a charge with 7.7 seconds remaining. Gianiny was fouled and hit his first free throw.
Washington had 23 points and six assists. Anthony Rice added 20 points for Memphis.
The Cardinals became only the second C-USA team to win both the regular season and tournament titles in the same season.