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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lady Cards rally falls short. Gonzaga wins 76-69


-Hines 17 points not enough for Cards.
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-Reid's injury key blow to Louisville
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Louisville rallied from a 20 point deficit at 51-31 to cut the Gonzaga lead to 65-62 late in the game but key free throws down the stretch led Gonzaga to the win. Louisville 31-14 run had the Zags nervous...but they held on and advance to the Great Eight. Free throws were decidedly in the Bulldogs
favor...hitting 24-28. Louisville had only 5 for 9 shooting attempts from the charity stripe.
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It was a first half to forget for Jeff Walz troops, especially after leading Cardinal scorer Monique Reid limped off the court two minutes into the game with a strained groin. The Cards got a strong first half effort from Asia Taylor, but trailed by 11 at the half 35-24. Too many times the Cards rushed into bad shots and then failed to set up defensively effectively.
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Shoni Schimmel had 18 for Louisville...after a first half of just two points. Tia Gibbs finished with 16 and Asia Taylor recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
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Louisville simply could not get any first half production from Shoni, though, in the first half. The freshman went 1-13 from the field in the first twenty minutes. The Cards played in a constant defensive transition mode, often getting beat by Gonzaga's Courtney Vandersloot, who had 16 of her 21 points in the fist half.
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As bad as the Cards played in the first twenty minutes, they started out worse in the second half. Shots still weren't falling for Louisville or Schimmel and Walz tried several different combinations, including Shelby Harper at point guard for a stretch, to inject some life into the listless Cardinals. The run finally did come for Louisville...and it was a brilliant exhibition of defense and Schimmel finally finding the mark from the field. If her one on three fast break score, including a behind the back dribble in traffic down the lane doesn't make the top 10 Sportscenter highlights...then the producers at ESPN need to step down.
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At times, though, the Cards were unable to slow down the efforts of Vandersloot...who showed why she was the WCC Player of the Year and a definite candidate for the Naismeth Award. Tough defense and closing the passing lanes finally slowed her down in the final stanza..but others took over for her to keep the Zags from folding completely.
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Keisha Hines went to war against the smaller Gonzaga players in the second half and Asia Taylor had success in the paint as well..but, in the end...the hole Louisville dug for themselves was too deep to get out of...despite a strong and impressive run to get within striking distance.
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Losing Monique Reid, the Cards leading scorer, two minutes into the game obviously didn't help the Cardinals chances against Gonzaga. Although she did return to the floor in the second half and played three minutes, she couldn't go on the groin strain and had to return to the Cardinal bench. Her injury was quite evident as Louisville played on without her...needing assistance from teammates to get out of her chair and join team huddles during timeout. Reid might have made a big difference for Louisville, especially in the first half when nothing seemed to drop for the Cards...but we'll never know...Keisha Hines took the inside battle as far as she could but the patented plays of Schimmel lobs to Reid for inside scores tonight never got a chance to materialize.
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All in all, a great and thrilling season for Louisville. A team that matured and made great strides as the season progressed. The play of daring Schimmel all season long and the development of fellow freshmen Charmaine Tay and Sherrone Vails down the stretch assures Louisville will have continued great seasons for the next several years. If Antonita Slaughter can show sophomore improvement, the sky is the limit for this team. With only Hines graduating among the players who played a key role for the Cards...and the return of Reid, Becky Burke, Asia Taylor..Louisville will have a solid nucleus of proven and veteran players. Add Sara Hammond, Quaneisha McCurty, Cierra Warren coming off her red shirt year and Shawnta Dyer returning from injury and the inside factor for the Lady Cards will be a major force to be reckoned with. We also expect there still may be a surprise or two left in store for the Cardinal roster of 2011-12.
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Tonight, though...it was a case of too little, too late for a Lady Cards team that missed the presence of their leading scorer. We have to question the fairness of letting a #11 seed play all their tournament games in their home gym and home city...but give Gonzaga credit for knocking off better seeded opponents on their improbable and highly unimaginable march to try and get to Indy. They scored the most points tonight...and as Jeff Walz will tell you...that's what wins games. The pain and sadness of losing this one tonight will soon pass for the Cardinal players and fans. The bright future and good days ahead for the future of Cardinal basketball are worth waiting for...
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2 comments:

  1. I do want to give credit to Gonzaga for WINNING all their games. However, beating Iowa & UCLA just doesn't mean a whole lot to me.

    I mean, other than Baylor, Stanford, Texas A&M & Oklahoma. I really don't think those West to Midwest team are that FRIGHTENING! I just wasn't surprised about those Gonzaga's wins.

    Especially, considering Gonzaga is a Top 20 team playing 4 games in their city or court. And now they've beating...I mean Upset the 7th seed Unranked LadyCards. Congradulations Gonzaga...you did beat the Higher Seeded Teams!

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  2. Can't put our heads down, it was a great-exciting season. Now if Louisville can grab Jude Schimmel they would have a Vandersloot type speed! Jude has Phemom' speed with the ball. Hats off to the Cardz on a great season.

    ReplyDelete

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