WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
- Schimmel's 31 lead Cards in loss to Maryland
|Photo by Charlie Springer - UofL Card Game|
A sickening bounce off the back of the rim.
Time expires and Maryland advances to the Final Four with a 76-73 win over Louisville Tuesday night in the KFC YUM! Center in front of 14,002 screaming fans...99% of them dressed in red or black.
Do not blame Shoni for this loss. She put this team on her back and erased a 70-60 Maryland lead after two Alyssa Thomas free throws with three threes in 29.6 seconds.
Tia Gibbs two free throws got Louisville within three points at 73-70 with 14.5 seconds left. Louisville had just benefited from the second of Shoni's threes and Gibbs drew the foul on the Maryland inbounds possession. The Cards fouled Shatori Walker-Kimbrough after Gibbs' scores and the freshman Terps guard calmly sank both to make it 75-70.
Six seconds later, it was Sho-Time again. Another deep three made it a 75-73 game with 3.3 left on the clock. Another foul by Louisville on the inbounds play and senior Maryland star Thomas missed the first but made the second charity attempt to set up the Cards desperation attempt.
If that wasn't the most exciting final minute of basketball I've seen this season...I challenge someone to point out another.
The whole game had the aura and intensity of a championship match.
Maryland...hot early...grabbing an 8-2 lead at the 16:40 mark. The Cards fighting back to get within one at 11-10 after a Jude three. Maryland going on a five minute, 11-2 surge to take a 22-17 advantage. The Cards grabbing a 24-22 lead off a 7-0 run over the next three minutes...capped by a Nita Slaughter three at the 5:45 mark. Louisville going on a 8-2 run in the last 2:53 of the half to lead at the 20-minute mark 36-32.
Shoni had 14 of her game-high 31 at that point. Alyssa Thomas...the other All-American on the court...had 9 for the Terps and sharp-shooting UM guar Katie Rutan had bagged four trifectas.
The Cards began the second half with a quick 5-0 spurt in the first minute and the KFC YUM! Center was pure bedlam.
Maryland fought back determinedly. Shoni's incredible driving, twisting layup gave the Cards a tenuous 43-40 edge with 16:14 to go.
Then...the train screeched to a halt. Louisville would muster but two points in the next five and a half minutes and a 14-2 Terp run put them ahead 54-45 with half of the second half gone. It was 60-51 with four minutes remaining and Shoni had missed her last seven shots. Louisville could not buy a layup.
The Cards would score eventually...A Tayy dropping in two free throws. Maryland would counter. Shoni's layup with 1:55 left cut the UM advantage to 10 but it looked like time was running out on the Cards. It was her first basket in 13 minutes.
It was 66-56 Maryland.
Four Maryland free throws in the next minute set up the wild, final 56.8 seconds.
An incredible but heart-wrenching end to an incredible season by these UofL players. A superlative senior scoring night...where Asia, Tia, Nita and Shoni had 65 of Louisville's 73 points.
A group that will be missed greatly and remembered fondly. An effort that got the dejected group of girls leaving the court a standing ovation from an appreciative and admiring fan base. To hear these four seniors pour their hearts out in the post game press interviews will endear this group of ladies to me for a very long time.
To see Sonja with tears streaming down her face at the same time Asia's fall on the podium. To see Walz gently comfort Shoni as she breaks down in mid-sentence. To see four girls who left it all out there on the court and get so close, but fall so very short on a silly bounce of a rubber ball off an iron rim...sitting there...bravely answering questions about the final game of their college careers. Hurting inside. Having given their best and finishing second best.
Losing sucks so bad...
A perfectly run final play. A shot that probably goes in 4 out of 5 times attempted.
This game they call basketball...it never ceases to amaze, does it?
MOP: Alyssa Thomas, Maryland
Shoni Schimmel, Louisville
Antonita Slaughter, Louisville
Meighan Simmons, Tennessee
Lexie Brown, Maryland