Luke Hancock's barrage of three-point shots in the first half and Peyton's Siva's flurry of second-half drives garnered most of the attention, but it was a more workmanlike play by Chane Behanan that may have best exemplified the tenacious effort put forth by Louisville en route to the national championship.
With his team clinging to a 76-70 lead over Michigan late in the second half on Monday night, Behanan showed a relentlessness on the offensive glass usually associated with the Cardinals' defense. As the game clock ticked under two minutes remaining, Siva drove into the paint. He fired a pass down to the 6' 6" sophomore on the block. Behanan stepped in toward the rim and laid the ball up off the glass.
No good. The ball bounced off the rim.
Back to the floor and then up again, Behanan tried to tip it in with his right hand.
No. good. The ball bounced off the rim.
Michigan forward Mitch McGary reached for the loose ball but could not control the carom. The ball dropped to the floor. Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. all went for it. Behanan came up with it. He went back up with it a third time, throwing it high off the glass as he rose above the scrum. The ball bounced, off the glass and then off the front rim, before dropping through the net.
"That was just grit and toughness," raved CBS analyst Steve Kerr during a replay. "Behanan just changed this game from the outset of the half. The toughness inside, the rebounding edge, the physical play of Louisville has been the difference. Wow!"
Louisville coach Rick Pitino pumped his fist in satisfaction after the play. Leading 78-70 after that hard-earned bucket, the Cardinals would hold on to win 82-76. Behanan finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Seven of those rebounds came at the offensive end.
""It's a one-time thing in life," Behanan said after the game, via The Associated Press. "You never know if you'll get this opportunity again, so we just left everything on the court."
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