MOORE'S 18, STRONG BENCH PLAY LEADS CARDS PAST PANTHERS
Mariya Moore's 18 points, a near double-double from Myisha Hines-Allen and 35 points from the bench -- plus a dominating fourth quarter -- were the factors leading to a 21-point win over Pittsburgh yesterday in the KFC YUM! Center in front of 8039 Cardinal fans.
At first, it looked like Pitt might be the stronger of the two teams on the court. The hot-shooting Panthers hit their first five attempts and roared out to a 12-7 lead on UofL in the first three minutes...going on a 10-2 run after Louisville led early 5-2 on a Asia Durr three. A missed Cortnee Walton layup at the 6:40 mark got Jeff Walz active with substitutions and Jazmine Jones and Taylor Johnson entered the game. Louisville needed a spark and their contributions...plus a dominating ball steal by Hines-Allen that sent Pitt's Brenna Wise crashing to the floor in the wrestling match for the orb...motivated the crowd and the Cards to cut the Pitt lead to 14-13 when Jones nailed a mid-range jumper. MHA going WWE had press row talking as the Cards climbed back into the ring.
(As convincing as MHA's power move was...it was eclipsed by the brawl that erupted in the Utah St. v. UNLV WBB game. This is truly frightening stuff.)
LINK: STORMING THE COURT FOR THE WRONG REASON
Jones would sink another jumper in the quarter, tack on a free throw and Louisville took the lead (for good) when Moore sank two charity attempts to make it 19-18 Cards with 33 second on the clock. The first period ended that way...but Pitt was active with 61.5% shooting, a 11-5 rebounding edge and careless as well with 10 first-quarter turnovers. Pitt's Brandi Harvey Carr was making life difficult for Louisville, though, with 10 points in the first ten minutes
Neither team shot the lights out of the facility in the second frame...Louisville going a cold 5-19 (26.3%) and Pitt managing just two baskets in nine attempts...but the Cards gradually started to pull-away from the Panthers...a 11-2 run over the first six minutes. The Cards were going inside and finding success when they could get one to drop through the net and Ciera Johnson, Kylee Shook and Hines-Allen produced all but four of the Cards 15 points in the quarter. Louisville led at the half 34-25...neither team scoring in the final two minutes of action.
Louisville still needed a spark offensively from someone beside Hines-Allen, who had nine first-half points. 30.6% shooting isn't going to win a team many games. The defense was still active...Pitt had 17 first-half turnovers, compared to just four for the Cards and the home squad had a 18 to 6 edge in points off those turnovers.
The third quarter featured a couple of runs and initally started well for Louisville when Jazmine Jones (getting the second half start over Durr...who never returned to the contest) cashed in on a BJ pass and sank a layup for a double-digit 36-25 Cardinal lead. After that, though, Louisville fell into a four-minute, lack-of-focus funk. Pitt fired one last salvo at the Cards with an 11-2 run...which featured four strong inside points from Panther center Harvey-Carr, a deep three from reserve Alayna Gribble...plus two turnovers and five missed shots from the Cards.
After a BJ turnover, Walz had seen enough and inserted C.J., T.J., Brianna Jones and Sam Fuehring into the game...UofL clinging on to a 38-36 lead with 5:47 left in the quarter.
The gambit paid off.
Jazmine Jones connected on a couple of charity tosses. Mariya Moore banged home a three, Brianna Jones hit four free throws in a row and Louisville's 9-0 run had them back in control 47-38 with 2:13 on the scoreboard. A buzzer-beating three by Mariya set the tally at 52-43 Louisville in a quarter where Cardinal reserves had eight of Louisville's 18 points.
The final session belonged to Louisville 21-9. An opening Moore three made it 55-43. A Moore jumper, free throw and Kylee Shook jumper pushed the edge to 60-43. Harvey-Carr inside was about all the Panthers could muster and UofL was getting production from the bench. Kylee's three made it 65-45 Cards with 4:32 until game end. Ciera Johnson's jumper moved the total to 69-48 Cards. She scored again inside for Louisville's largest lead a 71-48 and also ended the Cards scoring with 31 second left to ice the 73-52 Cards triumph.
Durr was diagnosed with "looking very tired" by Coach Walz and he decided to rest her as long as he didn't need her. Jazmine Jones stepped up big in her place with 13 points. The Cards (15-3, 3-1) got key minutes from Jazz, Kylee, Ciera and Sam off the bench and after her strong first half...Hines-Allen finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. Her "take-down" of Pitt forward (and season-leading scorer) Brenna Wise in the first quarter seemed to take the fight out of her...she finished with just four points in 26 minutes.
Harvey-Carr stepped up big for the Panthers...the DePaul graduate-student transfer went 10-16 and finished with 25 points...15 in the second half...which was almost half of Pitt's offensive production in the final twenty minutes. Second chance points (17-6) and points-off-turnovers (27-9) were solidly in favor of the Cards.
Walz's Bakery was closed on Sunday...with just six UofL turnovers. Pitt ended with 24 miscues and the Cards had 14 steals from the visitors.
HOW DID FRED DO?
|Fred Savage from the TV show|
"The Wonder Years"
REBOUNDS -- The Cards ended up taking the rebounding battle 38-33 after trailing in it 20-19 after a half. Beside Hines-Allen's dominating nine...the rest were pretty evenly spread out...three players (Moore, Fuehring and C.J.) with four each. Pitt did dominate the defense boards, though, 27-20...so we will award a letter to Louisville...but it will only be a small case "r" .
EFFORT/EXECUTION -- A hot-and-cold night in terms of these two categories. The lapses in the first and third quarters were rough to stomach. The dominance of the forth quarter a good thing to see. Buoyed by a strong shooting final period ( 9-15 for 60%) Louisville shot 37.3% for the game. Inconsistency. Since the Cards won, we'll give out the small-case "e" and nothing more.
DEFENSE -- A lot of things to like here...except Pitt's shooting percentage (48.8 for the night). Forcing 24 turnovers, getting 14 steals and holding every Panther pretty much in check offensively except for Harvey-Carr. Pitt scored just 16 points in the final 15 minutes of the game and based on that...we'll be magnanimous and bestow a capital "D" in this category.
FINAL FRED TOTAL: _-r-e-D
WHAT WE LIKED
- Player participation. A lot of Cards were responsible for tonight's win and that's something we haven't seen too lately. Walz surprised us a bit with the substitution patterns...but they seemed to pan out. The starters played only 108 of 200 court-time minutes available. Maybe this wide-distribution was because of the level of the competition...but we'd like to think Coach saw some good things in practice and decided to see if they could continue on in a game situation. Good job, backups!
- Basketball Jones. Borrowing the title from the 70's Cheech and Chong hit and 90' SPACE JAM movie...the Cards had a basketball Jones on the court last night with Jazz's performance. One could even extend that to Brianna "Jonesy" Jones' solid minutes as well. J.J.'s smooth mid-range jumper is a delight to watch when it's falling and her 5 for 8 performance last night was delightful. Whether hers or Mariya Moore's is better remains a debatable subject (especially between the two) but last night J.J. was connecting and we could "hear her now".
*Clip of the slightly-questionable and dated but entertaining Basketball Jones below:
LINK: BASKETBALL JONES
- Sealing the deal. We wanted to see the Cards close the door in the fourth last night and they did. Even with 12 players seeing action in the final frame. True, Pitt isn't any ACC-title contender, but only two Panthers scored in the final ten minutes and Louisville had nine baskets on six assists. We approve.
-- Moore for the money. Encouraging to see Mariya's shot rolling back around into form. She hit three big 3's in the second half...featuring one to end the third quarter and another to start the fourth. On a night where Asia was mis-firing, it was good to see another player step-up from the deep.
THINGS TO WORK ON
-- Consistency. We're not fond of constantly bring this factor up...but Louisville stumbled out of the third quarter and was unable to cool the hot-shooting Panthers at the start of the game. 30 minutes of good basketball may not be enough when the Cards are at Tallahassee Thursday or hosting Miami on Sunday. Stagnant offense and recognizing the shooter still need work.
-- Asia? I started getting the texts and message inquiring about Asia Durr at halftime and they continued through-out the game. Where is Asia? Injury? Bad night? I knew not the answer...maybe it was her 1-9 shooting night and 1-6 trifecta results? I ventured the question to Coach Walz in the post-game presser and he responded with this:
"She looked really tired. So, I guess...you know...if I didn't have to play her in the second half I wasn't going to. I was just trying to give her a break. And tomorrow's a day off of practice. These kids...you know...they're college kids. They don't do a good job of taking care of themselves. They all want to stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning then try and sleep during the day. It's not the way it works. If you want to be an elite athlete, you've got to make sure you're getting to bed at a decent hour and getting a good night's sleep...because your body takes a toll. It's a war out there."
Wins are wins, they add up and the Cards did accomplish that Sunday with a win that wasn't close to their best effort of the year but got the job done. It was good to see so many Cards contributing to the victory...but Walz put four different players on Harvey-Carr and couldn't slow her down in the paint. The stoppage of post-players has needed and still continues to be something Louisville must get better at.
Yesterday's game was one of the rare ACC matches that Louisville has had or will have where they're pretty much expected to win. The question in my mind was how effectively and by how much? Pitt gave the Cards all they wanted for three quarters yesterday and, although the killer instinct slightly surfaced in the final ten...Louisville had a golden opportunity to make this a blow-out at the start of the second half and didn't respond.
Florida State won't be as forgiving. They put a 24-point "whomping" on visiting Duke yesterday and held the high-scoring Blue Devils to just 15 first half points. They'll be laying in wait for the Cards Thursday.
I went another perfect 7-0 on the Sunday slate. Va. Tech, Syracuse, NC State, UNC, FSU, Notre Dame and the Cards all getting wins as predicted. No real surprises here, except for the trouncing the 'Noles put on the Dookies and maybe Virginia Tech struggling early with Clemson. That sets my conference mark to 20-4 in successful picks...a sizzling 83.3%
In the post-game press conference Sunday...Coach Walz points out jersey recognition...plus proper passing techniques to Paulie, discusses equal opportunity in a basketball setting and reveals his thoughts on the life of college students and their habits in his remarks.
J.J. and Mariya recap their performances and remain divided on who the best mid-range shooter is on the squad.
Audio from the post-game presser:
MARIYA AND JAZMINE POST-GAME PITT
WALZ CLOSES BAKERY...PROMOTES BENCH