By Mike Morton
Archbishop Molloy alumnus Russ Smith is an NCAA champion.
His No. 1-seeded Louisville Cardinals defeated No. 4 Michigan 82-76 at the Georgia Dome Monday night to win the school’s third NCAA championship in school history.
Smith, who had torched the nets for most of the tournament, struggled on this night. He scored just nine points on three of 16 shooting. The junior guard’s experience and leadership proved to be the most valuable aspect of his game, his teammates said.
“Russ and Peyton [Siva] lead the show, and I just try to play off of them,” said Luke Hancock, who was named most outstanding player of the tournament after scoring 22 points Monday.
Although Smith struggled in the title game, his scoring through the first five rounds of the tournament is what propelled the Cardinals to the championship. The final round was the only game during the tournament that Smith failed to score at least 20 points.
“Russ, he was taking the usual shots he usually takes,” Siva said. “They weren’t falling. Tonight wasn’t his night. He carried us the whole way. Without him we definitely wouldn’t be here.”
Louisville, Smith falls to UConn in women’s title game: Former Christ the King guard Bria Smith and Louisville’s magical tournament run ended with a 93-60 loss to the University of Connecticut in the NCAA women’s basketball title game in New Orleans Tuesday night.
Smith scored seven points and dished out six assists in the final. She was instrumental in the Cardinals making the title with 17 points and six rebounds in a 64-57 semifinal win over the University of California.
Southerland, ’Cuse fall in Final Four: Benjamin Cardozo’s James Southerland and No. 4 Syracuse lost to Michigan 61-56 in the Final Four last Saturday. Southerland struggled in the national semifinal. He scored just five points on two of nine shots.
But the senior forward did come up with a huge shot with 41 seconds remaining in the game, when he nailed a three-pointer to cut Michigan’s lead to 57-56. After two Michigan free throws, the Orange had a chance to tie the score with nine seconds left.
Syracuse drew up a play for Southerland, but the play collapsed, forcing Trevor Cooney to take a tough shot and miss to see the Michigan win.
“We were trying to get James [the ball],” Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said. “They switched on it. Trevor had no choice. That was it. He had no choice.”