Sunday, April 7, 2013
Monday Cardinal Couple - Cards 64 - Cal 57
MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
-On to Tuesday...Cards 64-57 over Cal!
"Anything can happen...why not us?" - Jeff Walz
Guess who's coming to the national championship game in NCAA Womens Basketball?
The Louisville Cardinals.
Down by 10 at halftime, Louisville tightened up the defense and the Cards got big scoring from Nita Slaughter and Sara Hammond to win going away in the final minute 64-57. Louisville scored the final seven points of the game after a 57-57 tie with 1:49 to go.
Nita Slaughter had 18 points for the Lady Cards, but five different Cards scored in the final 4:25 to lead Louisville to the NCAA Championship game.
Sara Hammond got a plus one with 1:28 left and after a missed Cal three Bria Smith got fouled and sank two free throws to make it 62-57 with 17.7 seconds left. Another missed Cal attempt and Jude Schimmel added the final two from the free throw line for the final 64-57.
CARDS WIN! CARDS WIN!...THE CARDINALS WIN!!!!
It is the first-ever appearance for a#5 seed in the FINALS in women's NCAA Tournament history.
Louisville will face Connecticut, a surprising 83-65 winner over Notre Dame. The Huskies led by 10 at the half, Notre Dame narrowed it to six midway in the final stanza but UConn got a fantastic game from freshman Brianna Stewart and won going away.
The Cards started out with the frenzy that put both Baylor and Tennessee behind early. After Bria Smith scored the first basket of the game on a layup a minute into the contest, a Slaughter three, Vails free throw and Smith steal and layup had the Cards up 8-2 at the 17:10 mark. Cal responded, though, with a 14-2 run over the next 3:40 to take a 16-10 lead after a Gray inside move. Cal had the momentum and the Cards were getting hammered on the boards.
Smith scored again on a layup to cut it to 18-13 with 11:58 left and a Slaughter three had Louisville down only 20-16 a minute later. The Bears responded again with a 10-6 run, capped by Caldwell inside to hold a 30-22 lead and 5:42 on the clock.
Cardinal fans held their breath when Monique Reid went down hard after a collision under the Cal basket at the 5:07 mark and the senior was helped to the locker room. Shoni Schimmel connected on a jumper and then 1 of 2 free throws to pull Louisville within seven at 32-25 and 3:25 showing...but the Bears continued to work inside and pushed the advantage to 35-25 after Boyd scored.
The eye-popping play of the game occurred after that...Shoni on a fast break delivering a no-look, behind the back assist to Jude in the paint...who converted the layup to make it 35-27 with a minute left in the half. Cal scored on their final possession and Louisville found themselves down by ten at the intermission 37-27.
Shoni was 1-7 in the first 20, Sara spent time on the bench with two fouls and Caldwell, Clarendon and the Bears were controlling the boards. Louisville was missing free throws and the Bears were shooting 58% from the field. The Cards need to step up the defense, find some offense rhythm and get a little momentum back if they wanted to get back into the contest.
Whatever Jeff Walz said at the half worked. Louisville fans were encouraged to see Mo come back out with the team after halftime --ready to go. Shoni nailed a three to start the second half. Bria connected at the 18:34 mark and Sara Hammond's inside muscle move capped a 7-0 Louisville run with 16:23 on the clock and the score 37-34 Cal.
Cal wasn't folding the tents just yet. They pushed the advantage back to 41-34 before Nita sank a three to make it 41-37 and 15:03 remaining. The Bears responded with two scores, however...Clarendon's basket had UC in the lead 45-37 and 12:55 left in the game. The Cards needed some answers and needed to stop just trading baskets with the Bears.
Sara Hammond found success inside to cut it to six but Clarendon responded at the 11:14 mark. Nita drained a long range three with 10:55, her fifth of the game and after two Bria free throws and two Jude charity tosses, it was 47-46 Cal and 9:17 showing on the clock. The Cards had clawed their way back into the contest and the New Orleans Arena was rocking with the sound of Louisville fans rallying their team.
UofL then missed out on two opportunities to go back ahead. Sara Hammond scored but was called for a questionable charge and the basket was taken away. Nita Slaughter found her herself wide open under the next possession but missed a point-blank bank shot and Boyd countered for the Bears with a three to give Cal a 50-46 lead. Cal pushed it to 52-46 with 5:19 left and you had to wonder if the Cards had peaked too early and were finished.
They were down 36-19 on rebounds and needed to find a way to get back just one more time.
Louisville was not ready to end the journey, however.
In fact, the Cards had Cal right were they wanted them.
Shoni started the resurgence with a jumper at the 5:10 mark. 45 seconds later, Nita drilled her sixth three of the game. Sara Hammond went to the hoop, missed but got fouled and hit two free throws to give Louisville the lead back at 53-52 and 3:40 remaining in the game. Clarendon gave Cal the lead for the final time at the 3:13 mark 54-53. Bria regained the Cardinal advantage with a drive to the hoop to make it 55-54 and Shoni sank a jumper to make it 57-54 with 2:02 to play.
Cal made a last-gap effort to tie it on a Clarendon trifecta as the clocked showed 1:49. From there on, it was all Louisville.
Hammond scored beneath the basket, a rim-hanging attempt that seemed to take forever to finally drop through the next. Fouled, she sank the ensuing free-throw to make it 60-57 Cards with 1:28 remaining. After a Cal miss, Bria Smith was fouled and sank two from the line to provide Louisville with a 62-57 margin at 17.7 and Jude completed the Cards scoring
Louisville held Cal to five points in the final 5:19 while scoring 18. They held the Bears to 20 second half points while scoring 37.
Toughness. Walz challenged them if they had it late in the game and they showed they did.
An improbable but exciting and remarkable ride comes to a close Tuesday night in NOLA. Are the Cards ready to make one more "shock the world" statement? They've downed Blue Raiders, Boilermakers, Bears, Volunteers and more Bears...
Time to cage the Huskies.
Here the link to the press conferences below for the semifinal games:
Although it is WBB's day to shine, we do need to mention that both softball and lacrosse both kicked a little a$$ yesterday as well...
The softball Cards closed out their visit to the BIG Apple with a 8-0. five inning win over St.John. Whitney Arion with a big, 3 run 'tater early to give Rachel LeCoq all the runs she needed in a 2 hit, shoutout performance. Louisville swept the series 3-0 and will now move on to Rhode Island...where they'll face up with the Friars for a Tuesday double-header.
Meanwhile, on the University of Louisville campus, the lacrosse Cards were stifling the Marquette Golden Eagles 19-2. Plenty of scores for our CARDINAL COUPLE darlings Cortnee "Lace" Lacey and Kaylin Morissette. Nikki Boltja and Katie Oliverio filled up the Golden Eagles net as well. Louisville was up 19-2 with about half of the second half to go when Kellie Young pulled the starters and concentrated on ball control, keep-away tactics and kept the score down.