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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, February 23, 2013 4:41 pm

No. 10 Louisville downs Seton Hall 79-61

By GARY GRAVESAP Sports Writer

For 10 minutes, Seton Hall matched No. 10 Louisville.

The Cardinals' defensive pressure and center Gorgui Dieng then overwhelmed a Pirates team depleted by injuries in Saturday's 79-61 loss.

Fuquan Edwin's runner in the lane gave Seton Hall a 19-17 lead with 10:20 remaining in the first half. But a 23-7 Louisville run, sparked by four 3-pointers, to finish the half gave the Cardinals a 14-point halftime lead that the Pirates could not overcome.

Ball pressure from Louisville guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva began to push Seton Hall into turnovers and rushed shots, leading to Dieng sinking jumpers on the other end. He finished with a career-high 23 points on 10-of-11 shooting.

"Their defensive pressure sped us up," Seton Hall guard Aaron Cosby said. "Russ and Peyton, they pick up full court and we weren't able to get into our offensive sets."

Cosby, a sophomore and Louisville native, led the Pirates (13-15, 2-13 Big East) with 17 points, 14 in the second half. Seton Hall has lost nine straight and 13 of its last 14 games.

Despite the slide, Pirates coach Kevin Willard is pleased with team's effort while battling injuries.

"We are positive because our guys are playing really hard. We don't have a lot of options. We only have seven guys healthy right now. When you're in this league playing with seven guys - with no power forward and three centers - you're going to struggle. I'm really happy with the way our guys are fighting through it."

Eugene Teague's layup with 12:47 remaining cut the lead to 52-40 before the Pirates ran out of gas.

"We don't have nowhere near the numbers they have," said Teague, who finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. "Their pressure started to fatigue us."

Practice has often been a bigger challenge for Seton Hall than its opponents.

"Everybody who is playing significant minutes has dealt with an injury at some point," said Cosby, who missed time early in the season with a partial tear in the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. "That's kind of tough because guys practice one day, (then) don't practice; play one day, don't play the next. It's tough preparing for each and every game."

Rick Pitino, Willard's boss from 2001-07, said Seton Hall's rash of injuries is the worst he's seen as a coach. He praised his former assistant's coaching job during the stretch.

"What they are doing offensively and defensively is great," Pitino said. "It's just that they have no bodies and they wear out. They play everybody tough for 25-30 minutes, then they are exhausted."

Willard said only three of his players would be available to practice Sunday before hosting Villanova on Monday. Sophomore forward Brandon Mobley had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder following the Pirates outing against Syracuse.

"We competed until the end," Cosby said. "We weren't in the game but we competed and that's something we can build on, just competing.

Smith added 19 points and Luke Hancock made three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points as the Cardinals (22-5, 10-4) won their third in a row. They also swept the season series against the Pirates, following a 73-58 win on Jan. 9.

Brian Oliver had 12 points, all in the first half, and Edwin 11 for the Pirates, who shot 23 of 52 (44 percent).