ATLANTA (WDRB) -- Hours after University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino went into the Basketball Hall of Fame, his basketball team won a game worthy of the Hall, holding off Michigan in an 82-76 classic to win the school's third national championship, and the second for the coach.
Luke Hancock, the hero of Saturday's semifinal win over Wichita, did it again. He made four straight three-point shots after Michigan had blown out to a 12-point first-half lead, stabilizing the Cardinals, who used brilliant point-guard play by Peyton Siva in the second half to hold off the Wolverines, making Pitino the first man to lead two different programs to the national championship.
The confetti fireworks exploded as Pitino approached Michigan coach John Beilein to shake hands, and the coach ducked. He dodged a bullet in Michigan, which opened red-hot and got 17-points from seldom-used freshman Spike Albrecht.
But U of L remained poised. After Hancock's threes, it trailed by only one at halftime. And in the second half, Siva took over. He dissected Michigan's defense, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists. Chane Behanan turned in a huge second half, as well. After U of L was outrebounded 17-12 in the first half, it outrebounded Michigan 20-10 in the second.
"We beat a great basketball team, because we have 13 of the toughest guys I've ever coached," Pitino said. And that wasn't all. On national television, he said he'd promised his players if they won a tattoo. "Hell yes I'm getting a tattoo," he said.
Hancock, who was playing in front of his seriously ill father, was bigger than them all. His three-pointer with 3:27 left put U of L up 76-66 and started the celebrations. Michigan closed within four points twice in the final minutes, but the Cardinals went 4-for-4 from the line in the last 30 seconds to seal it.
Hancock finished with 22 points and was named the Final Four's most outstanding player. Behanan finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds. And in a physical, bruising game, U of L outscored Michigan 34-28 in the paint.
Trey Burke, Michigan's national player of the year, finished with 24 points.
But Siva was the game's pivotal guard. He scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half.
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