-Free throws down the stretch, Asia Taylor lead LADY CARDS
Louisville used 8-8 free throw shooting in the final 36 seconds and a strong half from junior Asia Taylor (12 points and nine rebounds) to defeat Villanova 62-58 in front of 10680 Saturday afternoon in the KFC YUM! Center.
The Cards rallied from a 42-36 deficit with 9:52 left in the game to take a 46-44 lead on a Shoni Schimmel three with 7:37 remaining and trailed only once the rest of the way. A Taylor jumper with 3:50 left gave the Cards the lead for good at 49-48.
STARTERS: Vails, Shoni, Burke, Taylor and Smith.
Louisville led early 2-0 after Bria Smith hit the opening shot with a minute and a half gone but soon found themselves on the short end of a 7-4 score at the first media timeout. The Lady Cards trailed 11-4 before Bria Smith's two free throws stopped the Nova run.
If the first half resembled a funeral dirge...credit it to the aggressive defense employed by each team. 21-21 after 20. Neither team over 30% shooting and 13 turnovers between the two squads.
|This early version of the Cardinal Bird is probably what|
kept me away from Freedom Hall as a child. Scary bird !
(The picture of Louie here is in no way representative of today's version.)
The Cards ran off five straight points to start the second half...thanks to a Becky Burke 3 and Taylor jumper....but the Wildcats cut it back to one. After a Sara Hammond free-throw made it 33-32 Villanova...the Wildcats ran off with seven of the next nine points to lead 40-34 when Laura Sweeney hit a layup.
The Cards were ten minutes away from the buzzer but far from looking like a team determined to win.
It got better, though. Schimmel, Smith and a Taylor "plus one" put it to 42-41 'Nova. Smith's jumper with 8:19 to go gave Louisville a 43-42 lead. The teams went back and forth until the 3:50 mark...when Asia put the Lady Cards ahead to stay with a jumper at 49-48. A nifty pass from Taylor to Dyer for a basket had Louisville breathing a little easier at 53-48 with 1:49 left.
That set up the strong finish from Taylor and Shoni...who accounted for all but nine of the Cards final 28 points. Two Burke free throws made it 62-58 with two seconds left and a desperation three by Megan Pearson rimmed out as time expired.
Louisville was led by Shoni's 18. Also in double figures were Taylor (14), Burke (11) and Smith (10). High for the Wildcats was Sweeney with 18...the only double figure scorer.
Louisville goes to 17-4 on the season and 6-2 in the BIG EAST with the win. At times, it was painful to watch when the Cards were on defense...since Villanova runs some very disciplined sets to free open shooter. Sweeney and Lindsay Kimmel used these to perfection at times. If Sweeney had fared better than 9 of 19 shooting, we may have had to change the title on today's blog.
Nevertheless, it's a "W" and each one of those the Lady Cards can gain is so important the rest of the way out. One that was far from decided in the final minutes.
WHAT WE LIKED
- Taylor tenacity. We loved the energy level and athleticism the junior displayed tonight on both ends of the court. She drove with confidence through the clogged Villanova paint and got hoops or free throw attempts. She was one rebound away from a double-double. Like we mentioned earlier today, you never really know which "big" for Louisville will step up. Today it was Asia...who had 14 of the "bigs" 23 points.
-Bria on board. A double-double for the freshman tonight with 10 points and ten rebounds. Add three steals to the stat-line and an impressive outing for the freshman. 4 of 15 shooting isn't the best effort and two blown, wide open layups weren't "Sportscenter" moments but...she's just a freshman, folks. An impact one at that.
|Dyer drives for two (photo by Charlie Springer-Card game)|
THINGS TO IMPROVE ON:
-Consistency. Louisville appeared to be on the verge of making sizable runs on Nova several times tonight...but a few missed shots here, a turnover there, lax defense or careless passes allowed the Wildcats to creep back into it. Consistency...it's what makes Notre Dame and UConn what they are. It comes with experience. The Lady Cards are getting there...
-Free throw shooting. Although Louisville did sink their final eight
attempts...several one and the bonus attempts went unfulfilled earlier in the second half that could have put the Cards in a bit more comfortable lead as the game got down to crunch time. Louisville 17-24 for a respectable 70.8%. Villanova a white hot 12-13 and 92.3%
The Lady Cards head to DePaul next for a Tuesday night matchup. A game that has interesting implications with DePaul's strong front line play. A team with a true center. One that will start the second half of the BIG EAST season. A big test in the BIG EAST.