MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
-Thompson's second half lifts Cats past Cards 48-47
UK Freshman guard Janee Thompson scored all of her team high 13 points in the second half and her three with 8.4 seconds left in the game gave the Wildcats the come-back win over Louisville Sunday night before 15453 fans in the KFC YUM! Center. The Cards had not lost to UK on their home court since 1999.
Louisville led 37-24 with 14 minutes remaining but went on a cold streak, failing to score for almost five minutes as UK clawed their way back into the contest. It was 37-30 with 11:15 remaining and the Cats cut that to 41-38 with 5:35 left.
A buzzer-beating three by Sara Hammond gave Louisville a six point lead at the 4:38 mark, but the Cards wouldn't score a basket the rest of the way and 3-6 free throw shooting down the stretch had the Cards clinging to a 46-42 lead after a Sara Hammond free throw and 1:41 to go.
Quite frankly, this one was ugly early. UK led 4-0 after the first four minutes...UofL turning the ball over five times and attempting just one shot. Smith finally got UofL on the board with a jumper...but UK went on another 4-0 run to lead 8-2 with twelve minutes left in the first half. The Cards chipped away at the advantage, though, and tied it at 8-8 after two Shoni Schimmel free throws at the 9:15 mark. Shoni's three 40 seconds later gave Louisville a lead that they eventually increased to five points at halftime...breaking a 18-18 tie in the final 1:40 of the half with a Hammond jumper and Shoni three with 38 seconds left. The Cards led at the half 23-18.
Schimmel had 13 points. She did not score in the second half. Nita Slaughter stepped up big with nine rebounds in the first half. She didn't grab another one the rest of the game and played only five minutes in the second half.
The Cards went on a 6-0 run to start the final twenty minutes and led 29-18 with 18:15 to go after a Smith jumper. A tip in from Megan Denies made it 35-21 Louisville with 15:08 to go and it looked like Louisville could do no wrong. They were aggressive, confident and getting the ball inside to Sara Hammond, who was converting.
Thompson entered the game with 16:47 to go for Kentucky and hit a three with 14:52 left. UK proceeded to go on a 11-6 run. With 8:42 left and the Cards leading 41-32, Adia Mathies fell to the floor clutching her leg after a turnover by Bria Smith and was replaced by Bria Goss. Two baskets by DeNesha Stallworth and a jumper by Stallworth cut it to a 41-38 Louisville lead and set up the frantic finish. Mathies did return with two minutes to go and finished the game.
Shoni led Louisville with 13 points. Sara Hammond had 12...10 of those in the second half. Bria Smith finished with seven, Monique Reid five (all in the second half), Shawnta Dyer four and Megan Deines, Jude Schimmel and Nita Slaughter two each. Shelby Harper played four minutes but did not score. Neither Sherrone Vails or Cortnee Walton got off the bench.
Things We Liked
1. The Cards forced 23 UK turnovers in the game.
2. Louisville's defense held UK to 32.7% from the floor (18-55). 3-16 from three-point range.
3. The Cards had 11 steals.
4. Louisville hung in there in the rebounding also grabbing 34 compared to UK's 37.
5. The Cards got a great first half from Nita Slaughter. Why she played only five minutes in the second half is puzzling.
Things to work on
1. Turnovers. The Cards had 25. Shoni with 11 of them. Bria had six. That number needs to be cut in half.
2. Points off turnovers. Louisville had 10, UK 17. That's a hustle stat. UK won it.
3. 5-8 free throw shooting. The missed ones in crunch time were huge, in terms of being able to salt the game away.
4. Three-point shooting. The Cards were 4-15. Shoni had three of them (in ten attempts). The only other Cards to attempt them were Megan Deines (0-3), Nita Slaughter (0-1) and Hammond (1-1)
A heart-breaking loss in a game that Louisville controlled for most of the way. We understand why Coach Walz went to Smith and her quickness late in the game, clearing out and letting her create...but Louisville got off only four shots after Hammond's three at the 4:54 mark. Three misses and the block at the end of the game. Overly cautious basketball? Tough to say...but UK went on a 8-3 run from that point on and the Cards offense just seemed to evaporate. Give UK credit for their relentless defensive pressure but the Cards seemed slow in getting into the offensive sets at the end and could not score from the floor when they finally did take shots.
In the end, two players who had never played against Louisville or in the KFC YUM! Center....Thompson and Stallworth...scored UK's final seven points (and 16 of their final 18) and the Cats won a exciting (but disappointing for Cards fans) Battle of the Bluegrass.
NELL ON WHEELS ROLLS INTO LOUISVILLE
About an hour before tip-off, Nell Fortner set up camp above the KFC YUM! main lobby with her latest "Nell on Wheels" stop. She was joined (while we were there) by LaChyna Robinson of ESPN and Fred Williams (head coach of the Atlanta Dream) and the three discussed key-points of the upcoming game.
Due to the heavy media presence at yesterday's game, the seating arrangements had Sonja and I split up for the first half of the game. I did get to spend the first half with Jared Stillman (J-Bone) who is now back in his hometown Nashville after graduation and working for ESPN Sports Radio 102.5 FM there. Always good to see the affable and personable J-Bone and he hasn't lost that rapier wit or knowledge of UofL hoops. Also had Lindsay McDonald (24/7 Sports) on my other side. Good writer, fun to talk to and very knowledgeable.
Sonja, on the other hand, was seated in Section 119 at a secondary press row and slated to sit next to Nell Fortner. After the first half, Nell hadn't arrived. We decided that we'd bring Sonja to the floor and take two vacant seats on press row (behind the basket) and sit together for the second half. I gave my seat to the Observer (Charlie Springer - UofL Card Game.) Sonja became no-show Danielle Donehew (Big East Poobah or something like that) for the second half.
We kept looking up in Sec. 119. Nell never showed. Guess those wheels were already in gear... or discovered the Troll Pub across the street.