LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell each scored 19 points and played big roles down the stretch in helping No. 4 Louisville survive UNC Wilmington 68-57 on Sunday night.
A game that the Cardinals seemed to be gaining control of with an 18-point lead early in the second half was soon cut to 52-50 as the Seahawks went on a 15-0 run over 4:07.
That’s when Rozier asserted himself, scoring six of Louisville’s next 10 points in a run that included Harrell’s basket. UNCW cooled off after that, missing 10 of its final 13 shots to lose the first meeting between the schools.
Harrell also had 17 rebounds, and Wayne Blackshear scored 11 points for the Cardinals (9-0). They won despite shooting just 42 percent from the field and making only one of 13 3-point attempts.
Freddie Jackson scored 16 points and Jordon Talley had 13 for the stubborn Seahawks (3-3). They shot just 39 percent.
Despite the Cardinals’ uneven performance, coach Rick Pitino earned his 350th victory with the program against 117 losses in 14 seasons. Louisville’s win also spoiled the homecoming of first-year UNCW coach Kevin Keatts, who served the past three years as Pitino’s assistant.
Before the game Pitino presented Keatts a small gift of appreciation for his recruiting efforts that helped land the 6-foot-8 Harrell, who eventually helped Louisville pull away from the Seahawks.
Louisville led 32-24 at the break but the game began as a back-and-forth affair with UNCW showing Cardinals-like aggression on offense. Chuck Ogbodo resembled Harrell on a fierce putback dunk for a 4-2 lead before Cedrick Williams threw down a one-handed slam to make it 10-9, one of several Seahawks leads.
The Cardinals stayed close as Blackshear scored 11 of their first 17 points before Harrell chipped in nine points and 11 rebounds that helped them take control for a while. They were also Louisville’s bright spots in a 36 percent shooting half, slightly better than UNCW (33 percent).
A 14-4 run provided a 46-28 Louisville lead with 13:47 remaining before the Seahawks responded with its last spirited run to get within a basket. Talley made a jumper, Dylan Sherwood added a 3-pointer and Williams hit a jumper to make it 52-50.
Rozier soon made a jumper to snap Louisville out of its funk.
UNC Wilmington: Ogbodo, Williams and Sherwood each added six points for the Seahawks.
Louisville: The Cardinals improved to 16-1 in the Billy Minardi Classic, established in 2002 to honor Pitino’s brother-in-law who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. Louisville’s only loss was in 2006 to Massachusetts. … Mangok Mathiang had seven rebounds and two blocks in his first start at center in place of Chinanu Onuaku.
UNC Wilmington: Hosts Liberty on Wednesday
Louisville: Visits Western Kentucky on Saturday.
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