MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
CARDIAC CARDS SURVIVE ST.JOHN'S GUARDS 57-54
-Slaughter's 22 lead Louisville past Red Storm
-Volleyball banquet Saturday
|St. Margaret Mary first-graders deliver the National Anthem.|
Down 52-49 after a Nadirah McKenith layup with 5:46 to go, the Cards held the Red Storm scoreless until Shenneika Smith hit two free throws after Sara Hammond's fifth foul with 42 seconds left to make it 57-54 Louisville. During the run, Sara Hammond connected on four free throws, Nita Slaughter two from the charity stripe and a Bria Smith layup made it 57-52 with 1:45 left on the clock. St. John's missed two three-point attempts in the final nine seconds and the Cards survive by three.
Guards McKenith, Smith and freshman guard Aliyyah Handford combined for 50 of the 54 St. John's points.
|Bonita Spence checks to see if she's holding a basketball or|
leftover Halloween pumpkin
SJU outscored the Cards 7-3 over the next five minutes, though...to draw within one at 25-24 after McKenith hit a layup with 1:26 remaining. A Slaughter free throw with 41 seconds left was the final score of the half and Louisville clung to a perilous 28-26 advantage after twenty minutes.
Slaughter had seven points to lead the Cards in the half, followed by Hammond with six, Deines and Shoni with four each. Bria added three and Vails and Walton contributed two each. Shelby Harper and Jude played but did not score. Redshirt senior Monique Reid, on crutches on the sideline with an injured knee, did not play.
Handford led the Red Storm with 15 points, mostly on easy drives past the Louisville defense. Only three St. John's players scored in the first twenty, McKenith adding seven and Smith four. The Cards shot 35.7% (10-28) but did make 8-10 free throws and forced seven SJU turnovers. Each team took four trifecta attempts, St. John getting one from McKenith to drop. Louisville was 0 for Shoni and Bria.
The Cards needed to find a way to keep the speedy Handford from scoring inside in the final twenty and they did a excellent job, limiting her to just one point...but Shenneika Smith picked up the slack and totaled 19 of the Red Storm's 28 second half points.
The Cards started the final half by getting buckets from Hammond and Slaughter, but Walz substituted Jude in for Shoni after just two minutes when Smith got back to back layups for SJU to make it 32-30 Cards. Louisville lost the lead when Amber Thompson hit her only jumper of the game a minute later. The teams went back and forth for the next eight minutes, neither able to gain more than a two point advantage...and when Shoni returned with 9:04 to go, it was 45-43 Red Storm.
The back and forth trend continued...Slaughter providing the Louisville offense and Smith doing the same for St. John's With 6:15 left, Slaughter cut the Red Storm lead to 50-49 with a layup...but McKenith returned the favor to set up the Cards frantic finish and win. SJU committed two unforced turnovers in the final 2:48 and hit only one of four shots. Had to groan a bit when Shoni took to the lane and tried a questionable running, off-balance layup that
SJU's Smith swatted away. Why not just hold the ball with a three point lead and 30 seconds left?
Still...it's a win, though, and the Cards go to 17-4 and 5-2 in the BIG EAST.
Slaughter led the Cards with 22 points and five rebounds, going 10 of11 from the free throw line. Hammond ended up with 14 and eight grabs. Bria Smith finished with seven, Deines six, Shoni four and Vails and Walton two each. Jude and Shelby did not score. For Slaughter, it was her second-highest point total since her arrival on campus...getting 23 against Gardner-Webb last year.
|Referee Al Titus decides he wants in my picture. I cut his head off.|
Louisville shot 37.5% (18-48), St John's 44.9% (22-49). The Cards narrowly outrebounded SJU 32-31 and went 21-25 from the line. The Cards committed a low nine turnovers but scored only one point off them. In a closely contested affair, there were 13 lead changes and 11 ties. Only 19 threes in the 40 minutes, St. John hitting three of their twelve, the Cards 0-7.
THINGS WE LIKED
1) How much sweeter could Nita have been? Consistency has been her name the last six or so games and she shone far above the rest today. With Mo out indefinitely, she's the co-force at the "four" with Hammond and no longer just a three point shooter.
|Bonita comes over to see if I want to play catch during a |
timeout. I passed on the offer. She'd probably call a "T" on me.
3) Battling back. The 8-0 run late showed a lot of character. No turnovers, clutch free-throw shooting (which we also loved at 21-25) and defense.
THINGS TO WORK ON
1) Threes. 0-7. Can't remember the last time Louisville didn't hit a three in a game. Threes weren't the priority today, especially with SJU's quick guards bottling up the shooters, but an "0-fer" always looks bad, bad, bad.
2) Stopping the easy, inside score. It was almost like a looping reel. See a SJU guard drive, see Louisville fail to stop her, see SJU score. Granted...SJU has three great guards...but interior stoppage must occur.
3) Rebounding. Out-rebounding the worst rebounding team in the BIG EAST by just one on your home court isn't going to get you any trophies. The Cards front line grabbed 19 of the 32..but only six offensive ones.
We have to admit when we saw Bonita Spence on the court to referee the game, we almost turned and went for the East exit. But, despite a few obvious missed calls and an interesting end-of-first half exchange between her and Walz...the crew didn't stink as badly as feared. Only 30 fouls total in the game and 17 of them on the Red Storm. Hated to see Hammond foul out, especially when two of her five were "phantom" calls...but no other Card had more than two.
|Louie's mascot friends help celebrate his birthday!|
Coach's post-game comments below. This week, Bob Domine helped J.J. and I carry the question load. Once again, I baffle Jeff on the opening question. It's a tradition.
POST GAME WALZ
The University of Louisville Volleyball banquet will be held Saturday, Feb 2nd. at the PNC Plaza @ Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. and the festivities are scheuled to kick-off at 6:30 p.m.
Unlike the spring sports banquets that preview the upcoming season, the Volleyball banquet is a celebration of the completed season.
Unfortunately, last we heard...seniors Gwen Rucker, Lola Arslanbeckova and Kaitlynn James will not be in attendance. They are out playing professionally and (according to CARDINAL COUPLE Volleyball guru Jeff McAdams) doing quite well.
The rest of the team and coaching staff will be there, though...so it's a great time to mix and mingle with the stars of tomorrow and the Cardinal Volleyball fans.
Tickets are $40 and we know Jeff will be there. CARDINAL COUPLE Co-Owners Paul and Sonja have made contact about media coverage...no reply yet, so we'll see if the response is a quick kill or a prolonged volley.
If you are interested in attending, here's the contact info:
Special Events, Louisville Athletics
Louisville WBB plays Georgetown at 2 p.m. that day in the KFC YUM! Center...so why not make it a women's sports day and attend BOTH events?
Banquets are a great way to meet other UofL fans and also learn a lot about the programs. And, you usually get to sit at the table with one of the players, who are always eager to tell you about the squad and share stories with you. We'll never forget our first Softball banquet when we met this skinny, freshman California high school player who was brimming with confidence and hopes for her career at UofL.
That was Chelsea Bemis and she turned out to be one of the best to ever step to the plate at UofL.