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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cards rally falls short against UConn...Huskies win 56-46


-Lady Cards second half rally falls short vs. UConn

-Cierra Warren leaves Lady Cards

UConn bench. (Photo from Sandy Walker)
The University of Louisville women's basketball team went on a 11-2 run in the second half to cut a 44-32 UConn lead to 46-40 with 5:12 left in the second half...but it wasn't enough to get Louisville the win Tuesday night in the KFC YUM! front of 16483 fans.

Neither team had a great shooting night, mostly due to defensive pressure on each other....Louisville going 14-56 for 25% and UConn ending up 20-55 for 36.4%. The deciding factor was the Huskies scoring dominance inside...getting 24 points in the paint, compared to Louisville's 8.

Caroline Doty had 15 points...on five 3-pointers to lead UConn in scoring. The Cards got 20 points from Shoni Schimmel and 10 from Sara Hammond (eight in the second half.)

STARTERS: Burke, Vails, Taylor, Smith, Shoni

Becca Greenwell in the house watching
Lady Cards play. (Photo from Jenny O' Bryan.)
In a first half that was surprisingly devoid of a lot of scoring...UConn drew first blood on a Bria Hartley layup just 14 seconds into the game. Sherrone Vails evened it for the Lady Cards, connecting in the paint. Louisville stayed close in the first eight minutes of the first half...Shoni Schimmel connecting on a layup to make it 5-4 UConn and Shawnta Dyer scoring off a Vails steal to make it 7-6 Huskies with 14:24 left. Sara Hammond, seeing early first half action, nailed two free throws to draw Louisville within one again at 9-8 with 12 minutes left. The KFC YUM! crowd was definitely "into" this one and had the place rocking.

UConn tightened up the defensive pressure over the final  first half minutes, though...allowing just a Schimmel three while scoring 14 points to take a 25-11 lead with seven minutes to go. After an Asia Taylor free throw cut the Husky lead to 13...UConn responded again with eight straight points...capped off by a Brianna Banks jumper to give Connecticut a 33-12 advantage and 1:54 showing on the clock.

UConn assistant coach Chris Dailey excitedly points out
where I'm sitting during the Uconn vs. UofL WBB game
to a decidely unimpressed Dee Kanter. Back at ya, Chris !
In the background, Dolson contemplates additional
 ways to punch and prod the Louisville post players.
(Photo from Charlie Springer/Card Game)
 Shoni Schimmel dropped in a couple of free throws and a long range three to cut the UConn advantage to 33-17 with a minute left. It was the Lady Cards first field goal in over eight minutes. It also ended the first half scoring...the Huskies taking a 16 point lead into the locker room...33-17.

The numbers weren't especially pretty for the Lady Cards. Louisville was an anemic 5-29 from the floor for 17.2% The Cards were 2-11 from 3-ball range. Shoni had 10 first half points..but no other Cardinal had more than two. 13 turnovers and Taylor and Smith had three fouls each.

UConn was slightly better, going 12-30 from the field and 5-14 from deep. Tiffany Hayes and Caroline Doty had nine points each for Geno's team...but Louisville had outrebounded UConn 22-21 and forced the Huskies into 11 turnovers.

The Cards needed to find some offense and soon. Defensively, they weren't doing a bad job on UConn. UofL points were badly needed, though...and besides from Shoni... they just weren't coming against the aggressive UConn defense.

At first, those points were hard to come by for UofL in the final twenty minutes. Doty nailed a three 36 seconds into the action to make it 36-17. Smith tossed a free throw in to cut it to 36-18. After a Stefanie Dolson layup, Shoni bombed in another three...but Dolson scored again in the paint and it was 40-21 three minutes into the half.

The Cards started to go to work. Schimmel added two free throws. A minute later Dyer did the same. When Sara Hammond connected on a jumper at the 13:49 mark, the Lady Cards had trimmed the lead to 40-27 and the crowd was getting fired up again.

Pep band fires up the crowd!
A Hartley layup at the 11:58 mark made it 42-27 but Hammond connected with a jumper 21 seconds later. Dolson pushed the lead back to 15 but Nita Slaughter wowed the crowd with a three to make it 44-32. 10:33 remained and if Louisville was going to make a was the time.

After a Kiah Stokes layup, Hammond found the bottom of the net again and two free throws from her had it 46-36 with 8:20 left. The Cards were tightening up the defense and UConn shots were missing the mark. Vails scored inside after a media timeout and when Shoni hit a jumper with 5:17 left, it was 46-40 and pandemonium reigned in the YUM! Center. Geno needed a timeout and called one. Louisville was on an 8-0 run.

Hartley stuck a dagger in the  works with a three at the 4:45 mark. A Slaughter free throw after Hayes' fifth foul cut it to 49-41..but Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis sank two free throws on Hammond's fourth foul to push the lead back to 10 with 3:30 on the clock. UConn was being deliberate on offense, protecting the lead and the next two minutes went by scoreless until Doty popped a three that effectively did Louisville in at the 1:37 mark...making it 54-41. Shoni responded with a three to make it 54-44 and 1:12 left. Hammond's fifth foul led to two Hartley free throws for a 12 point Husky lead.

The technical foul
was a weird and
unnecessary move by
Dee Kanter.
Then, official Dee Kanter inexplicably called a technical foul on the Louisville bench following a Vails turnover and Kelly Faris steal. Hartley missed both the charity tosses, though and she turned the ball over o the ensuing possession. The Lady Cards concluded the scoring when Smith hit a jumper for Louisville with 22 seconds left. Final UConn 56 - Louisville 46.

A game effort by the Cards in a low scoring, defensive battle. The teams combined for 42 turnovers and UConn had 14 steals, compared to Louisville 7.

For the Lady Cards, nine played and all but Becky Burke and Shelby Harper scored. Shoni's 20 led the way, Hammond with 10. After that...Vails, Dyer and Slaughter with four each, Smith finished with three and Taylor one. Jude Schimmel did not see action. Cierra Warren did not dress and it was reported that she has left the team. (More on that further down in today's column...)

For Connecticut, Doty was the only double figure scorer with 15. Dolson had eight with nine boards. Hartley finished with nine...including that big three that stopped the Cardinal run.  

The Cards ended up 14-56 from the floor (25%). They were 5-22 from three point range. They won the rebounding battle 42-38. The Huskies shot 20-55 (36.4%) and connected on 8 of 29 trifectas. Louisville was 13-21 from the foul line, UConn 8-10.

All in all, a good effort from Louisville, even if it was a losing one. The play of Hammond was inspiring. Shoni was her usual free-wheeling self...6-20 from the floor and 4-14 from three point range. She kept Louisville in it, though. Eight rebounds, eight turnovers and three assists. With Shoni, you take the good with the bad...

Both Coach Walz and the players in the post-game press conference repeatedly stressed their appreciation and thanks for the large crowd that showed up tonight. A crowd that shook UConn for a brief while and probably kept this one from being a 20 or more point blowout. Cardinal fans, the players and coaches love ya!

With the win, UConn goes to 22-2 and 10-1 in the BIG EAST. The Cards drop to 17-7 and 6-5 in the BIG EAST.

The game strategy Walz enacted for last night's game was fairly effective. Shut down the scorers and make Hartley and Doty beat you from outside. Both responded with big scores when UConn needed them, but this wasn't a 88-44 blowout. Louisville had a chance and the Huskies did appear tired and a bit shaken in the second half when Louisville made their run.

Syracuse visits Saturday. A "must win" for Louisville. If the Lady Cards play with the intensity and heart that they did tonight against the Orange, they should prevail.

Final thoughts. Missing 25 of your first 30 shots isn't going to keep you in the game. But, with adjustments...the Lady Cards clawed back within six. If Hartley misses that three...
But, she didn't. Great teams find ways to win. Good teams make big efforts but fall short at times. Louisville isn't great....yet...but they looked very good tonight against #3 in the nation.  


The needs of the
many outweigh
the needs of
the one...
Cierra Warren has left the University of Louisville women's basketball team. The 6'4" red-shirt sophomore was averaging 8.0 points per game and 4.5 rebounds. Jeff Walz made the following statement in the post game press conference:

"Cierra decided after they (the players) had a team meeting after our DePaul game. The players'this is not acceptable. We gotta go harder. We gotta push ourselves.'

And Cierra, she just decided that she really didn't want to work that hard. So, she came into my office on Thursday and said " I think I'm gonna quit." And, that's her choice. Unfortunately, I think that today...sometimes kids don't really think through what they're doing. But, I know that if she isn't willing to work hard...then it's not fair to everyone else on this team that's willing to. So, we just move on. It's all you can do."

The post DePaul game meeting was led by Becky Burke, and the team challenged each other to work harder. Warren surfaced in Walz's office two days later, expressing the deisre to stay on the team but not buying in on the work harder effort.

Her departure leaves Louisville with 10 players available for games. Decisions like this are never really anticipated and surprising when they develop. Warren had been seeing increasingly less time in the post, though. Her DePaul points were basically junk points picked up at the end of a blowout. Where she ends up, who can say?

Wherever she goes, though..she'll need to re-commit to hard work and team play. Even Brittany Griner does,'re no Brittany.

Sure, it's always hard to lose a player during the stretch run. Especially a tall one. But, it is a team game. If the team decides to set goals and work ethics in a players' only meeting and you don't agree with them, then it's time to move on.


Bryce Davis won the Panera gift card with his guess of UConn 60 - Louisville 52. Thanks to all 54 who participated. No one predicted the low scoring nature of this one. Bryce's selection of 60 UConn points was second lowest on the UConn point total. That joker Kevin B. called it Louisville 14 - UConn 10...on a Teddy Brigdewater TD with 30 seconds to go.

Football heads. They're "on" all year long, aren't they?


  1. Good effort tonight. Glad to be part of a big, loud crowd. Just dug too deep a hole in the first half. Glad to see Sara Hammond come up so big in the second half. She made plays at both ends of the court. Shoni played well, but made several ill-advised plays at inopportune times, just when we were a few points away from getting right back in it. I didn't see Cierra Warren on the bench tonight, and missed Coach Walz's pre-game show. Anybody know what's up?

  2. Best game they played as a team all year. Happy to be vindicated by seeing Hammond contributing. More to come from her.

  3. Extremely proud of the way the girls battled. Thought the game was lost mostly in the first half-they actually outscored UConn in the second half.
    If any game deserves the "moral victory" tag, this one does. Check the record, the last team to come within ten of UConn without winning was Stanford, another perennial power, and they have been on a roll lately, smoking NC, Duke, Depaul, Rutgers, etc. Think they may not want to see UL again in the Big East tourney!
    Real happy for Sara, could be the silver lining in Warren leaving. Thought she played with a lot of confidence and emotion and I hope this was her coming out party!
    As for Warren, never thought she would be the first casualty. But, if a player is not willing to work hard, Louisville is definitely not the place to be. Coach Walz demands it, as he should, hard work is what gets you to the championship game.
    I am certainly not disappointed in the game whatsoever, am totally glad I was able to be part of that awesome crowd. Have been to every home game, and this is one team that definitely gets inspired by a large noisy turnout. We need to keep it up!
    GO CARDS!!!

    1. Since it may never happen again, I want to say that I agree with everything in Stark61's post.
      --PDX Phil

  4. I spoke briefly with Becky Burke after the game on the floor as she was signing autographs
    for the fans. We talked about Cards getting it to 46-40 and she mentioned that a shot made her or a turnover not committed there could have got it even closer. As for Warren, as Walz said.

    You move on.

    Good luck with the hosptial stay, Ken.


  5. Well your Walz usually runs off 2-3 a year. He's at 2. Who's next?

    -Wildcat Louie

    1. Yeah, Louie. You got us. Louisville is the only program in women's college basketball to have players decide to leave the team. Oh, how did you get Samari Walker? Or how did Della Donna end up at Delaware? ( Applying "Gibbs slap" to the back of Louie's head...) Thanks for sharing that insightful UK opinion, pal. Really?

    2. I really don't understand fans. Not just UK fans...some fans of every school, Cardinal fans included, are equally guilty. Here's a guy whose women's team is having a great year, has beaten us fair and square, is on top of the SEC and all he can do is make an "insightful" comment like that. (I'd use a more colorful adjective than "insightful" but we'll leave it at that.) The other day on one of the sports call-in radio shows, the question posed was "how good can the UK (men's) team be this year." A guy calls in, says that the team is great, will roll through the SEC, and (I'm paraphrasing here) won't experience a blowout loss to a clearly inferior team (an obvious reference to the Providence game). The host, to his credit, called the guy out for making a comment like that.

  6. Great rebounding Cards! Great defense. Great focus and intensity!!

  7. This is what Women's Sports at THE university of Louisville is all about. MS. Sara Nord was in the house to have her jersey retired, the godmother of Title Nine was honored at halftime. We are so lucky to have these opportunities to see in our City. What I witnesses last night is seeing people standing, cheering, going out of their mind with the possibility of lil' ole Louisville beating the Giant UCONN. Not sure that I was going to see this in my lifetime but so glad to be a season ticket holder for our Womens Basketball team. Very PROUD of Sara...what a fighter she has become and only going to be stronger and tougher! Warren ???? two schools ......not wanting to work hard? Is that right?? Come on....I will take a Shelby Harper that plays hard every time over a 5 star, lazy dont want to WORK. What did she think it would be like? North Carolina was too hard for her too? Here we GO Proud, because we are behind you, all we expect is the work ethic and you proved last night you have it inside of you! LOUAVULFAN 4 Ever!

  8. I was also present at the game and thought the crowd was great. Great effort by the team and so glad Sara played well. Did anyone else record the game and watch it later? The usual snarky comments at halftime by Coach Auriemma when a team stands up to his. Debbie Antonelli didn't seem to mind the physical play in the first half but it was all she talked about in the second half after his remarks. None of the commentators ever seem concerned when it is UConn delivering the tough play. One last thing, did anyone else think the pats on Coach Walz's head during the after game handshakes by Auriemma were condescending?

    1. Maybe he just reallly liked Walz's hairstyle. One thing about Geno, nothing he does is normal or dull.

  9. What the heck was the technical foul on Coach Walz for?

  10. No one is really sure, among the people I've talked to about it. A comment made? We were kidding that it was brilliant strategy by Walz...knowing that Hartley would miss both free throws and then turn the ball over on the inbounds play three seconds later. The sequence was... Vails lost the ball from pressure by UConn's Kelly Faris and Faris got the steal. I glanced down to write down the turnover on my sheet and the next thing I know...referee Dee Kanter is running down the sideline signalling a technical.

    The technical was officially charged to the Louisville bench...which indicates it was probably a comment made or interference with ongoing play. In my opinion, why call it with less than a minute to go and UConn up by twelve?

    Maybe the reason will come out. Maybe someone on or behind the bench will offer if anything was said or what happened. I didn't see anything. Neither did the UConn sports writers sitting next to me. Maybe aliens possessed Kanter's body and willed her to blow the whistle...

    It only served to get Kanter a roundabout booing by the crowd. Maybe she digs that kind of thing...



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