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Jeff Eisenberg

Technical foul on cheerleader nearly costs Louisville a victory

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

Had Pittsburgh somehow erased a five-point deficit in the final second of overtime on Sunday afternoon, a male Louisville cheerleader would have been fortunate to make it out of the KFC Yum! Center with all his limbs intact.

Instead, the cheerleader's unusual technical foul will probably be remembered as a bizarre but ulimately harmless blunder.

Convinced that Kyle Kuric's apparent game-sealing dunk in the final second of overtime marked the end of the game, the cheerleader walked onto the court and hurled the ball high in the air in celebration. The only problem was five-tenths of a second remained on the clock, causing the referees to assess a technical foul for delay of game on the unsuspecting cheerleader.

Guard Ashton Gibbs sank two free throws to pull Pittsburgh within three, but he misfired on a half-court heave that appeared to come a fraction of a second after time expired anyway. That enabled Louisville to eke out a 62-59 victory and the embarrassed cheerleader to no doubt breathe a sigh of relief.

"The male cheerleader is coming to an end," Louisville coach Rick Pitino joked to start his postgame press conference. "It was good while it lasted. It was fun. Now we'll try another sport for him."

"No, I'm sure it was unintentional, but you could actually lose a game that way," Pitino added once the laughter subsided. "Hopefully he'll learn the rules of basketball next time."

Some Louisville fans have already argued the cheerleader should be suspended or even kicked off the team for his actions, but that punishment seems a little harsh for an innocent mistake.

On the other hand, he'd be wise to remember this valuable lesson: Don't run onto the court and touch the ball under any circumstances – even if the final buzzer has already blown.

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