LOUISVILLE – Keala King scored a game-high 21 points, but the No. 7 University of Pikeville men’s basketball team lost 90-61 at Louisville in exhibition play on Wednesday night at the KFC Yum! Center.
The Cardinals simply shot better, hitting 51.6 percent from the field, compared to 34.9 for the Bears. UPIKE also hit just 9-of-18 free throws and turned the ball over 16 times to help Louisville take a 33-point lead in the second half.
“I thought it was a great experience for us, I’m surprised we were within four rebounds of them,” said UPIKE head coach Kelly Wells. “That was one of our keys, to be good on the glass. We’re playing against guys with NBA talent on a very well coached team and I’m pleased with out effort.”
Chris Jones paced Louisville, ranked third in both major NCAA Div. I polls, with 19 points and Montrezl Harrell added 18 points and six boards. Mangok Mathiang led the Cards with nine rebounds, although the team only outrebounded UPIKE 44-40 for the game.
Chris Cantino helped the Pikeville offense keep possessions alive, finishing with a game-high 12 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass to go along with seven points. John Nunally and Bruce Reed also reached double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Elisha Justice, spending the bulk of his action breaking the Cards’ pressure defense, scored just a point, but dished out a team-best four assists.
“It’s not an easy job and everybody in the AAC will find out how hard it is to score,” said Wells. We had two ball handlers, him and Josh Whitaker, and the pressure really wore on them. Josh did a good job scoring early, but he got really tired.”
UPIKE never gained the lead, but Whitaker kept it close for the Bears in the early going, hitting a long jumper and a three to tie the score at 6-6. Over the next five minutes, the Cardinals went on a 15-3 run to build a double-digit cushion it would keep for the rest of the half.
Pikeville didn’t allow the Cards to break it open though, getting timely threes from Reed and a 4-0 run by King to help keep the deficit at a manageable 15 points at halftime.
Louisville scored the first six points of the second half and went on to build its largest lead at 77-44 on a dunk by Harrell with seven minutes to play. A 3-pointer from Nunnally with a minute left made it a 29-point deficit, the closest the Bears would get the rest of the way.
Points in the paint hurt UPIKE as Louisville, led by Harrell and Wayne Blackshear, outscored it 48-26. Blackshear finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
The Cardinals needed the post presence as they shot just 4-of-19 from behind the arc, compared to 8-of-24 for UPIKE.
Pikeville, 3-0 in regular-season play, is back in action this weekend, hosting the BB&T Classic on Friday and Saturday. The Bears open up at 8 p.m. against Virginia Intermont at the East Kentucky Expo Center.