MONTREZL HARRELL scored 24 points, reserve Anton Gill keyed a late-game surge, and Louisville beat North Carolina State, 75-65, last night in the East Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament in Syracuse, N.Y.
Louisville (27-8), the fourth seed in the East and seeking to make its third Final Four in 4 years, will play No. 3 seed Oklahoma or seventh-seeded Michigan State in the East final tomorrow. The Sooners and Spartans played in last night's nightcap in the Carrier Dome.
After toppling top-seeded Villanova, North Carolina State (22-14), the eighth seed, saw its postseason run end against a team that refused to quit.
Louisville wasn't given much chance of playing in late March after it lost two of three entering the NCAA Tournament, but gritty wins over UC Irvine and Northern Iowa had the Cardinals brimming with confidence.
Terry Rozier had 17 points and 14 rebounds and freshman guard Quentin Snider added 14 points for the Cardinals.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino has a 12-1 record in Sweet 16 games, 6-1 with the Cardinals.
Trevor Lacey led the Wolfpack with 18 points, while Ralston Turner had 12 and Kyle Washington 11.
Anthony "Cat" Barber, the spark of the Wolfpack's attack, finished with eight points on 3-of-14 shooting, only briefly getting untracked early in the second half.
Before the game, Pitino promised a surprise and Gill delivered in spades. Gill, who averaged 9.5 minutes and 2.4 points during the season, hit a runner and a 3 from the right corner in a span of a minute as Louisville regained the lead late in a seesaw game. He followed with a baseline drive for a 62-57 lead with 3:33 left.
Lacey missed and Rozier stormed back on a fast break, his off-balance shot caroming in off the back of the iron as Turner committed a foul. Rozier calmly made the free throw to complete a three-point play for a 65-57 lead with 3:05 left.
Harrell's driving layup with 1:41 to go boosted the lead to 67-57 and that effectively put an end to the Wolfpack's postseason run.
The teams met during the regular Atlantic Coast Conference season, with the Wolfpack winning 74-65 on the road on Valentine's Day behind Barber's 21 points.
The Cardinals are not the same team. Standout guard Chris Jones, an offensive catalyst and master of the steal, was dismissed from the team for off-the-court problems. Snider stepped in and has gained confidence, scoring 26 points and snaring nine rebounds in Louisville's first two tournament wins.
At Houston, Przemek Karnowski had 18 points and nine rebounds and second-seeded Gonzaga used a big run early in the second half to pull away for a 74-62 win over No. 11 UCLA last night in the semifinals.
The victory puts Gonzaga (35-2) in the Elite Eight for the second time, its first regional final since 1999. The Bulldogs will play the winner of the Utah-Duke game tomorrow.
UCLA (22-14) opened the second half with a 6-0 run to get within 35-34. Gonzaga got going after that, scoring the next 12 points, thanks to the powerful inside game of 7-1, 288-pound Karnowski to make it 47-34.