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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Irish thump Lady Cards 80-60


THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE:
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-Notre Dame gives Louisville first BIG EAST loss 80-60.
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Louisville played with the Irish for a good deal of the first half before a late run turned a 21-20 narrow Notre Dame lead into a 37-22 halftime advantage. Asia Taylor (pictured right) came off the bench to score 16 points in the LADY CARDS loss.
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The Irish started the second half with a roar also and led the Cards 48-24 before Jeff Walz replaced the starters with five players off the bench. They managed to cut the Irish lead to sixteen a couple of times before Walz started mixing the starters back into the lineup...but Louisville never seriously threatened to contend for the win.
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The reserves that Walz inserted into the game (Taylor, Rachel Story, Polly Harrington, Antonita Slaughter and Shelby Harper) played with a sense of urgency and more intensity than those they replaced....Louisville actually outscored the Irish 36-32 the remainder of the contest. The tactic employed by Walz was a strong statement...designed to show the Cards that he will go to whatever means neccessary to insure that 100% hustle and effort on the court is produced whether Louisville is up by 30 or down by 20.
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Numbers speak loud here and Notre Dame outrebounded Louisville 45-35. The Irish also outshot the Cards 45.5% to 29.6% in the first half...and 47.3% to 34.4% for the game.
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The end of first half blitzkrieg by Muffet McGraw's crew was sparked by the play of Brittany Mallory from deep and Becca Bruszweski and Devereaux Peters inside. Six Irish ended up in double figures...Peters and Kayla McBride with 14 each, Skylar Diggins and Natalie Novosel with 12, and Mallory and Bruszweski adding 11. Peters and Bruszweski found the going easy in the paint against the Cards...shooting a combined 12-19 from mostly around the basket.
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Tough to find any silver linings in a black cloud loss like this...but the play of Asia Taylor did prevent Louisville from getting totally blown out of the Purcell Pavilion. Coming off the bench for 23 minutes, Taylor added six rebounds and three steals to her 7 for 9 shooting for the Cards.
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Most of Asia's points, unfortunately, came after the issue was decided...but hopefully this is the beginning chapter of a story where Taylor can contribute quality minutes to the Cardinals short-handed post contingent. Keisha Hines provided seven points and seven rebounds in twenty minutes in the paint for Louisville but Sherrone Vails could only manage two points and a rebound with four fouls against UND in 12 minutes.
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Besides Taylor's 16 points, Shoni Schimmel added 11 points on 4 for 16 shooting and Monique Reid was the other Cardinal to hit double figures with 10 points on 3 for 10 shooting. The Cards cold streak from three point land continued last night...going 4 for 17 (23.5%). Becky Burke 1-5 from the deep, Schimmel 2-8 and Antonita Slaughter 1-3. Louisville cleared .500 from the foul line with a 14-23 effort but the Irish dominated that stat with 24-38 numbers on the charity stripe.
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Call it a loss that most expected against a solid and talented Irish squad that can hurt you in multiple ways. Encouraging that Louisville was able to hang tough with the Irish for most of the first half...but the 27-4 run over two halves was the key component in the Notre Dame victory.
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For Louisville, it was a matter of not being able to stop the Irish from scoring inside and failure to block out and go to the boards. It was a concern that Louisville head coach discussed after the Louisville win over Pitt...and also has to be a prime worry when the Cards take the court Saturday against #2 Connecticut.
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The BIG EAST has had its share of surprising games this year. Add this one to the list...not because the Irish won...but for the surprisingly easy way they blew UofL apart for a crucial moments last night.
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Adrienne Johnson filled in for snowbound Paul Sanderford with the radio commentary alongside Jim Kelch last night. It's a shame the Cards couldn't get her into a jersey to combat the powerful paint play of Peters, Bruszewski and freshman Natalie Achonwa...who grabbed nine boards (seven on the defensive end) for Notre Dame last night.
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