Thursday, November 28, 2013
Thiursday Cardinal Couple -- Cards WBB avoid being turkeys...down WKU 74-61
THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
-Smith's strong second half, fast UofL start tops Toppers
-Volleyball stays unbeaten in AAC with win over UConn
...From the writers, staff and management of CARDINAL COUPLE, a very happy Thanksgiving to one and all and we hope your day is enjoyable!
The way the University of Louisville women's basketball squad started the Wednesday night game against Western Kentucky was something to be very thankful of. A strong second half from Bria Smith helped keep the Cards from being turkeys in E.A. Diddle Arena...Louisville pulls out the hard-fought, less than picture perfect 74-61 win before 3725 loud Topper fans.
Louisville raced out to a 9-0 lead in the first four and a half minutes of the contest and it looked like a repeat of the Ohio University game might be in the works. Louisville had held WKU to 0 rebounds and all the starters but Asia Taylor were in the scoring column
That lead balooned to 18-2 after a Shoni Schimmel layup and WKU finally tallied their second basket of the game when Micah Jones rattled home a three with 13:17 remaining in the first session. Jones added another trifecta and WKU responded with a 15-4 run over the next four minutes to trim the Louisville lead to 22-17. Jeff Walz had seen enough and re-inserted starters Shoni Schimmel, Nita Slaughter and reserve Monny Niamke into the fray...hoping to get the UofL offense rolling again.
A 6-0 run, keyed by two Emmonnie Henderson jumpers, gave the Cards a bit of breathing room with 7:27 to go and the squads stayed at 28-17 until WKU's Alexis Govan converted on a layup at the 5:03 mark. Louisville rediscovered their offense and led 33-22 after a Shoni three with 3:30 showing on the scoreboard.
The final 210 seconds produced two Chastity Gooch three-balls and a Alexis Govan jumper...spurring a 11-4 Western Kentucky spree that had them within three at 37-34 with 24 seconds until halftime. Slaughter followed up on a missed Monny three with four seconds left to make it 39-34 after 20 minutes.
Gooch, Govan and Jones had 22 of the Hilltopper points and Louisville had a eyebrow raising 14 turnovers in the books. Henderson, Shoni and Hammond produced eight points each in a half that had Cardinal fans wondering where the early "boom" had gone?
In the final 20 minutes...it would get worse before it got better. Gooch came out and buried a jumper to get WKU within three. Louisville realized it was time to respond and went on a 8-3 spurt to hold a 48-39 edge five minutes into the final half
That soon disappeared.
The Toppers made one last lunge at the lead and retaliated with 11 of the next 13 points and suddenly it was Louisville up only 50-46 and 14 minutes remaining. A clutch Shoni three was followed by a Bria Smith score. The point guard was starting to get untracked after a first half that saw her hit one only shot in nine minutes. She scored eight of the Cards next 18 points to put Louisville in command at 68-49 as the clock ticked down to seven minutes remaining.
WKU would not get within single digits the rest of the way...despite a yeoman effort by Gooch...who exploded with 12 more second half points to finish with a game-high 21.
Shawnta Dyer's free throw pushed the lead to 71-57 and the Cards spent the final 3:14 on even terms with the home team...taking a hard fought 74-61 win back to the Belknap Campus.
THE FINAL WORD
Today's final word will be: Escape. That's what the Cards did Wednesday night in Bowling Green
-Louisville escaped the chopping block a couple of times Wednesday night and was impressive in the fact they shot 55.4% from the field for the game...despite 3-15 long range bombing. Louisville was shooting over 70% for most of the second half.
-I made a point of asking Coach Walz in the post game media interviews about the 25 turnovers...a season high for UofL...and he assured me that the team was very good at making turnovers and was creating new ways to give the ball up. Tune into the Saturday morning CARDINAL COUPLE for both Walz's and Clark-Heard's comments on the contest. His answer to my question:
''We can turn the ball over with the best of them,'' Walz said. ''We can come up with new ways, some I haven't seen before, but we can definitely make a basketball game very interesting.''
(Classic, deadpan Walz sarcasm which drew a chuckle from the assorted media on hand to hear the coaches comments. WKU does not supply players to their post-game media interviews...or, at least they didn't last night. I would have liked to ask Gooch and Govan a couple of questions.)
-A win on the road against a fired up opponent with a staff full of former UofL coaches and players is a good thing. Walz needs to fine tune the substitution patterns and free throw shooting is still less than his standard of 70%
-Bria Smith responded with 14 or her 16 points in the second half. She looks very comfortable with the mid-range jumper now.
-The Toppers entertain Morehead State on Dec 1st. Louisville heads to Lexington for the annual donnybrook with the UK Wildcats in cozy Memorial broom closet.
-When we weren't fretting about the Cards turnovers...we were kept entertained by a couple of students sitting behind media row that were screaming humorous and sarcastic comments about the Louisville players' on-court action and the referees
They were spot-on about the refs. "Charles-In-Charge" and his crew were woeful.
- We also got to sit with The Logan Journal's news and sports editor Jim Turner. A great conversation with him during the contest about a variety of topics. Check out his on-line site at:
-7-0 is good, though. The real test comes Sunday in Lexington. Credit to a Hilltopper squad that never quit, never gave up and probably has the best player in the SunBelt Conference in Gooch.
( Note: Jude Schimmel left the game with 1:51 to go and headed to the Louisville locker room in tears and holding her head...accompanied by the Cardinal training staff. Seems she caught an elbow to the head and will be evaluated Friday by the UofL medical staff...according to Coach Walz )
CARDINAL VOLLEYBALL took a four set victory over UConn last night in Cardinal Arena. We're pretty sure our "Worldwide" Jeff McAdams was there and maybe he'll grace the comments section with more detail on the win. Louisville is now 22-7 overall and 17-0. UConn isn't.
Here's the skinny:
Emily Juhl and Maya McClendon had 15 and 14 kills respectively to lead the University of Louisville volleyball team to a 25-21, 20-25, 25-11, 25-16 win over AAC foe Connecticut to stay unbeaten in the league Friday night in Cardinal Arena. The Cards now post a 17-0 mark in the AAC and are 22-7 overall. U of L hit .289 for the match with 11 blocks and five aces. Maya McClendon notched her 12th double-double, adding 13 digs to her 14 kills. Katie George also notched a double-double with 46 assists and 15 digs. Randi Ewing led blocking with seven. Serving errors plagued both teams as the two combined for 22 total. The Huskies were led by Karson Ratlings 12 kills and two blocks.
And, WorldWide did contribute this!
I was, indeed, at the UofL vs UConn volleyball match last night.
A rough start for the Cards with lots of enforced errors, including a large handful of serving errors in the first set. Despite the errors, and only hitting .179 in the first set, they were able to pull out the win.
Not so much in the second set, with only .098 hitting(!) UConn picks up the set.
I'm not sure what Anne Kordes said to the team during the set break, but I hope she bottled some of it! The team came out and hit .692 in the third set. I'm not sure I've ever seen that high of hitting for a whole team in a set. They cooled off a little in the 4th in getting the win by "only" hitting .345, which is, of course, still pretty impressive for a team number.
Clearly, in the overall, Louisville plays a higher caliber of volleyball than UConn does, but to their credit, they are a team that doesn't ever give up.
Other highlights were 25 digs for Caitlin Welch as well as chalking up another kill. We almost had a play with a kill by Caitlin Welch where the assist would've got to Brooke Mattingly...that one would've been a lot of fun to write up, but alas the ball didn't drop on UConn's side.
Emily Juhl really is playing well in general right now. She had a serve where the crowd audibly gasped. She did sail one or two high, but that's the sort of thing you get with a high-risk high-reward sort of serve like she has (think Shoni Schimmel's passing and you get the idea...just without the flashiness).
One play that I really wanted to comment on was really great. Katie George with a quick set to the middle. Randi Ewing going up for the swing and drawing all of the middle blocking to her, but then the ball is hit...I should say *pounded*...by Janelle Jenkins running up the middle as well. The UConn defense and blocking was totally befuddled as was most of the crowd, including myself as I didn't see that coming at all either.
The last match of the season is tomorrow (Friday) at 3pm vs Rutgers at Cardinal Arena.
The Cards face Rutgers at 3 p.m. Friday to finish the regular season in Cardinal Arena and will then await their NCAA seeding and fate. The pairings will be announced Sunday night @ 9:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!!!