NCAA News Wire

Louisville 66, Saint Louis 51

ORLANDO, Fla. — Luke Hancock led four scorers in double figures with 21 points to lift No. 4-seed Louisville to a 66-51 victory over Saint Louis in a South Region third-round game in the NCAA Tournament at the Amway Center.

Guards Chris Jones and Russ Smith added 11 points each and forward Montrezl Harrell scored 10 and grabbed 11 rebounds for Louisville.

The Cardinals (31-5) limited Saint Louis to 39.6 percent shooting for the game, including 0-for-15 from beyond the 3-point line.

Saint Louis (27-6) got 16 points and 10 rebounds from forward Dwayne Evans and 15 points and seven assists from guard Jordair Jett, but couldn’t find its touch from the perimeter. Center Robe Loe added 10 points.

Louisville trailed, 29-27, with a little more than 14 minutes left, but turned up the defensive intensity a few notches and that allowed the Cardinals to outscore the Billikens, 39-21, the rest of the way.

Saint Louis opened the second half on a 14-2 run, fueled in equal parts by Jett’s offense and very poor shooting by Louisville.

The Cardinals missed their first 10 shots of the second half and turned the ball over three times, opening the door for a Billikens rally led by Jett.

The Billikens’ senior guard scored two driving layups and fed Loe and Evans for layups as Saint Louis spurted ahead, 29-27.

Smith finally got the Cardinals untracked, hitting a driving layup and two free throws. Harrell followed with a second-chance basket and Louisville was back on track, with a 33-29 lead and 13 minutes left in the game.

The Cardinals pushed the lead to 50-37 by playing aggressive defense and getting Hancock open at the offensive end. Hancock knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers and guard Chris Jones hit another as Louisville regained control of the tempo.

The Cardinals held Saint Louis scoreless for a five-minute stretch and a 12-2 run that ended with guard Terry Rozier’s tear-drop layup built the lead to 13 points.

Evans ended the Billikens’ drought with a layup that cut the deficit to 11 with 5:15 to play. Saint Louis cut the margin to nine twice after that, but never got closer.

Louisville had a 25-16 halftime advantage thanks to 11 points from Hancock, and a determined defensive effort that limited Saint Louis to 6-of-21 shooting (28.6 percent) and no points from the perimeter.

Hancock, the late-game hero in the second round victory over Manhattan, was the early-game star for the Cardinals.

The senior forward scored the Cardinals’ first eight points of the game and had nine of the first 12 as Louisville got off to a 12-4 lead.

The Cardinals pushed the advantage to 23-12 on back-to-back layups from forward Wayne Blackshear, but it was Louisville’s defense that was the most impressive part of the first half.

Louisville defenders closed out quickly on Saint Louis perimeter shooters on nearly every possession, limiting the Billikens’ backcourt of Jett and Mike McCall Jr. to 3-of-11 shooting.

NOTES: Saint Louis has never reached the Sweet 16. … Louisville and Saint Louis have been partners in three separate conferences: the Missouri Valley, Metro and Conference USA. … Louisville leads the nation in turnover margin at plus-7. … Saint Louis shot a season-low 46 percent from the free throw line in its win over North Carolina. Conversely, the Billikens had their second-best shooting night of the season from the field, hitting 50 percent.