Comerford Places First
While the focus of nearly all of college sports fandom sits squarely on the Men's and Women's NCAA Basketball Championships, Louisville added a new national champion to their ranks last night. Louisville sophomore, Mallory Comerford, grabbed a school record when she tied Katie Ledecky (of recent Olympic fame) for first in the 200m free. It was a come from behind result for Comerford who, like most other swimmers, was a massive underdog to Ledecky. Louisville women's swimming has now placed a champion on the podium in six straight years. They sit in sixth place going into the final day of the event.
Softball Opens ACC Play with a Win
After an up and down game, the Cards managed to pull out a walk-off 7-6 win in the first game of their series with the Pittsburgh Panthers in yesterday's nasty weather. Louisville led after the second and third innings before Pitt scored two in the fourth to take a 3-2 lead. The Cards promptly scored an unearned run in the bottom half to tie the game. Louisville retook the lead after a single, fielder's choice, wild pitch, and double by Jenna Jordan scored Tiarra Sanabria. Jordan came home on a Caitlin Ferguson single and the Cards led 5-3. Pitt answered Louisville's two run inning with a three run inning of their own and the Cards went into the bottom of the sixth trailing by a run. As was true nature of the game, they scored to tie it.
After three straight errors loaded the bases for Pittsburgh in the top of the seventh with no outs, it looked like the Panthers might be able to blow the game wide open and put pressure on the Cards going into the final opportunity. Instead, a lineout double play and a groundout kept the Panthers off the board in the inning and kept the game knotted at six. After a Ferguson popout, Jordan McNary sent a shot into the outfield which netted her a triple. Pittsburgh promptly walked Marissa Becker (who picked up her 12th win of the season) and Nicole Pufahl to bring Alison Szydlowski to the plate. It looked like their gamble may have paid off as Szyd struck out. With two outs and the bases jacked, Sanabria became the hero once again as her single plated the winning run.
The Cards and Panthers are back in action at Ulmer Stadium starting at 1PM today.
Men Open NCAA Tourney Slowly, Come Alive Late
Giving up 8 straight points to Jacksonville State to open the game likely wasn't in Rick Pitino's game plan. Nor was missing multiple dunks and layups. Nor starting the game 1-11 from the field without having taken a jump shot. Even Anas Mahmoud, likely the tallest person in Banker's Life Fieldhouse at the time, was blocked by the rim on a dunk attempt. (He would go on to gather the offensive rebound, get fouled on the putback, and miss both free throw attempts. Gag.) After trailing 10-2, Louisville presumably realized that they were playing in an NCAA tournament game that had started approximately fifteen minutes prior. Louisville scored six straight to get within two, then kept the Gamecocks in arm's reach by not allowing Jack. State to extend the lead past four.
Louisville was being propped up by offensive rebounds, second chance points, and forced turnovers as they kept Jack. State from running away with the game. Those stats would prove to be vital to keeping the lead once Louisville gained it. The Cards took their first lead of the game on a Deng Adel three with 6:44 remaining in the first. Jack. State quickly tied it before a second consecutive Adel three gave the Cards a 3 point lead. They would not trail again.
Donovan Mitchell's shooting woes continued, as he was a whopping 0-8 from the field in the first half. Unlike recent games, though, Mitchell didn't appear to be pressing as hard. He wasn't really forcing bad shots, and he was contributing in other ways. Mitchell finished the half with six boards, 3 assists, a steal and only one turnover. To be a star, you have to be a key player for the team even if you aren't scoring. Mitchell may have lost sight of that when he was averaging 20 something points midseason. The scoring drought will eventually end, but it's good to see Mitchell going back to doing it all on the floor. He would finish the game with nine points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and a block to go along with only one turnover and three fouls. He was on the floor for 38 minutes.
The player of the game award, however, clearly goes to Jacksonville State's Norbertas Giga. Louisville had four double digit scorers, with 3 over 15, but Giga led all scorers in the game with thirty points. The seven foot Lithuanian junior was 11-13 from the field (both misses coming on bunnies, surprisingly), and 3-4 from the free throw line. He finished with nine rebounds. After going 8-32 from beyond the arc during the regular season, Giga shot 5-5 from three point land against the Cards. His five turnovers didn't help the Gamecocks' cause, but he did all he could to keep them in the game, and it would have been ugly without him.
Louisville advances to face Michigan at 12:10 tomorrow. Michigan fended off a late flurry from Oklahoma State to win their game by a single point. Both teams were high powered offenses according to KenPom and Louisville may be in for a headache come Sunday. Rick Pitino is 3-1 against Beilein while at Louisville, but Michigan has been the hottest team in the country recently. They play a spread style offense which Louisville has seen in ACC play, notably with Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, and UNC where nearly every player can shoot. The Cards may need a heroic offensive effort to win, like they did against the Hokies earlier this year, but they'll also need a much stronger defensive effort than the game against Buzz's team.
Paulie has briefed everyone on this game before (twice actually) so I'll keep its mention short. Louisville opens their NCAA tournament at home with a rematch against Chattanooga. The Cards dispatched the Mocs earlier this year and will hope to do the same again today. Hopefully they can cruise just as the men did. Tipoff is at 1:30 PM.
The Louisville baseball team tied their best start in school history (17-0 in 1957) with a win yesterday over Boston College. Brendan McKay was dazzling, as always, with 10 strikeouts in 7 innings of work. Louisville is ranked the number one team in the country and will hope to break the record, and continue their regular season series streak alive, with a win today over the Eagles. First pitch is at 1:00 PM at Jim Patterson.
The Louisville lacrosse team also takes on Boston College, but this one is in Chestnut Hill. The Cards will look to swing their ACC record into the plus category with a first draw at 12:00 PM.
Finally, we three stooges are back in the studio together for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour. We'll get underway at 11 AM on 100.9 WCHQ or streaming online or through the app. We'll be breaking down all of these sports and more, plus there is sure to be side bar conversation as well.
Until next time, Go Cards.