ORLANDO, Fla. — Louisville senior forward Luke Hancock scored eight straight points in the final two minutes to rally the No. 4 Cardinals to a 71-64 win over No. 13-seed Manhattan Jaspers.
Hancock finished with 16 points, guard Russ Smith added 18 and forward Montrezl Harrell contributed 12 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Defending champion Louisville (30-5) had to outscore Manhattan (25-8) 11-4 in the final two minutes to win the game.
The Jaspers were led by forward Ashton Pankey with 16 points. Forward Emmy Andujar added 13 and guard Michael Alvarado finished with 10.
Manhattan led 58-55 after forward Rhamel Brown’s layup with 4:19 to go, but Hancock and Louisville responded with a rush to the finish line.
Smith started the comeback with a 3-pointer to tie the game with 3:21. It was tied again at 60 when Hancock started his run with a pair of free throws. The Cardinals senior forward the knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers, the second one giving Louisville a 68-62 lead with 27 seconds to play.
Smith sealed it with three free throws in the final eight seconds.
Louisville started the second half with three turnovers and two missed shots, giving Manhattan a chance to strike and the Jaspers did, scoring eight straight points. Forward Emmy Andujar’s driving layup finished the 8-0 run and gave Manhattan a 37-35 lead with 16:24 left in the game.
Louisville took that as a wakeup call.
Harrell got a dish from guard Chris Jones and dunked it to tie the score. Jones stole the inbounds pass and was fouled. He made both free throws and in less than 20 seconds, the Cardinals had the lead back, 39-37.
Manhattan would not let Louisville get away.
The Jaspers made only one field goal between the 11-minute mark and forward Rhamel’s layup with 4:19 to go, but still managed to take the lead. Manhattan got nine points at the free throw line and eventually took the lead when Andujar hit a pair of free throws for a 56-55 lead with 4:57 left.
Brown followed with a layup to make it 58-55 and what was left of the crowd of 14,000 at Amway Arena came alive with the feel of an upset in the making.
Louisville couldn’t find a hot hand in the first half, spreading its 35 points almost evenly among the five starters. Smith and Hancock had eight points apiece at the break, Jones added seven and Harris collected six as the Cardinals worked to post a 35-29 halftime advantage.
The Cardinals limited forward George Beamon, Manhattan’s leading scorer, to 2-of-7 shooting before halftime, but he was bailed out by guard Michael Alvarado, who had 10 first-half points, hitting both of his 3-point attempts.
Louisville led 21-14 after a 3-pointer by Jones with 11 minutes to go in the half, but the Cardinals’ offense went stale for the next five minutes, keeping Manhattan in the game. Louisville missed five consecutive shots and turned the ball over twice.
Manhattan, which got eight points from Alvarado in the first four minutes of the game, crept back with layups from Brown and Beamon, cutting the deficit to 21-18.
Hancock’s two free throws with 14 seconds left gave Louisville a six-point lead at the half.
NOTES: Manhattan’s last NCAA Tournament appearance was in 2004, when the Jaspers upset Florida in the first round. … Louisville coach Rick Pitino began the night 48-16 (.750) in NCAA Tournament games, ranking second among active coaches in winning percentage. … Manhattan coach Steve Masiello played under Pitino for one year at Kentucky and coached with him for six years at Louisville.
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