MORGANTOWN - The way No. 11 Louisville plays defense - pressuring the ball from end to end for 40 minutes - simply invites the kind of foul trouble the Cardinals ran into Saturday against West Virginia.
Still, not all fouls are created equal, and the one the Cards committed with less than a second remaining in a tie game defied belief.
"Oh, it was definitely a foul,'' West Virginia's Truck Bryant would say later. "It was the dumbest foul I've seen all year. We're 94 feet from the basket and I'm just trying to throw the ball up in the air.''
That was when Louisville's Preston Knowles, who had just missed a 3-pointer to win the game, charged in front of Bryant, who had rebounded the miss and was coming off the baseline. He had no chance to do anything with the ball, but Knowles ran into his path anyway.
Ed Corbett, the lead official on the game, immediately blew his whistle. The clock read 0:00.6 and Bryant was going to the free-throw line with a chance to win the game.
He made the first shot, tried to miss the second and still made it, and West Virginia walked off with a 72-70 win to the joy of 15,032 on hand at the Coliseum for the Mountaineers' final home game of the season.
"We lost the game at Louisville because I missed two foul shots,'' Bryant said, referring to a 55-54 loss on Jan. 26 when he missed two foul shots with 25 seconds to play that would have given WVU a three-point lead. "I wasn't going to miss them again.''
That Bryant even had a chance to win the game in that situation was fairly miraculous. West Virginia trailed 69-64 with less than 20 seconds to play and had missed 20 of its 22 3-point attempts. But Casey Mitchell drained 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions - sandwiched around one free throw by Louisville's Peyton Siva - to tie the score at 70 with 8.1 seconds left.
Neither team had a time out remaining, but Knowles actually got a pretty good look at his 3-pointer, although it was about 4 feet behind the line. When it missed, it appeared the game was over until Knowles charged across the court and into Bryant's path.