SENIOR SUPERLATIVES IN WBB WIN OVER VIRGINIA TECH
On Senior Day, in the KFC YUM! Center, Louisville women's basketball put an exclamation point on the end of the regular ACC season with a convincing 17-point win over Virginia Tech in the KFC YUM! Center.
10423 filled the lower bowl at the KFC YUM! Center and got in the YUM early to see five seniors get honored before the game. A touching, tears-of-happiness and wonderful tribute to Jess Laemmle, Yacine Diop, Bionca Dunham, Kylee Shook and Jazmine Jones before the game. Each walked to mid-court, with family alongside them, to receive a bouquet of flowers, hugs from Jeff Walz and Vince Tyra and were presented a framed jersey before an appreciative crowd. Overhead, on the scoreboard, tributes to each from family, friends and fans.
The pre-game love-fest got the Cards a bit teary eyed, as well as many fans, but it also fired up the five seniors (who started) and their teammates and staff. Maybe it's only fitting that Jess would score the fist points of the game. She took a Kylee Shook pass after an offensive rebound, drove into the paint, found a gap in the VT defense and calmly sank a pull up jumper in the paint. Everyone went crazy. How great was seeing that...hard working, never seeking glory, dedicated and dependable Jess hit her first shot?
It was only the beginning of the beat-down. Bionca Dunham followed suit with a score in the paint and with 5:35 left in the first quarter, Shook got a feed from Jones, found herself open at the top of the circle and drained a three ball. 7-0 Cards. The media timeout was well-needed by Kenny Brooks and VT. They had missed five shots, had two turnovers and were back on their heels (bo pun intended) .
After the timeout, Dana Evans, who had subbed-in for Jess three minutes into the game, put up her first shot of the game and nailed a three. At 10-3, the rout was on. The appreciative fan base loved what they were seeing.
And, they got more of it.
Ya-Ya connected on a jumper and then made a steal on defense. She found Jaz in the paint and a turn-around jumper from her was nothing but net. 14-3. Kylee's second three with 1:17 left set the score at 17-5. All five starters had scored and the Cards would finish out the first quarter with a 19-8 lead. 53% shooting for Louisville, 25% shooting for the guests (3-12). The defense had already forced four turnovers and weren't allowing second chance shots.
Louisville maintained the focus in the second quarter and Walz entered Elizabeth Balogun, Liz Dixon and Kasa Robinson into the romp. VT countered by getting the ball inside to standout freshman center Elizabeth Kitley. Louisville was still shutting down the VT offense early in the second and had pushed the lead out to 26-10 with seven minutes left in the first half after another Evans three. The Hokies re-intensified their effort to get Kitley looks and they were briefly successful. VT went on a 8-0 run over the next two minutes to trim the UofL lead to 26-18. That score still stood at the media timeout.
The teams traded baskets for the next four minutes and the Cards still had a eight-point lead when Jaz went on a mini-run.
Diop found her with a pass and the jumper was good. The Diop-to-Jones connection worked again a minute later and this time a three-ball sank for Jones. Diop continued her spectacular final two minutes of the half by grabbed a Evans missed three with five seconds to go, driving in the paint and scoring as the buzzer went off.
37-24 Cards at the half. Louisville shooting was pretty decent against the aggressive Tech defense at 16-34 (47.1%). Jaz led all with 11 points, Kylee right behind her with 10 and Kylee's seven rebounds led all players also.
The refs were "letting them play". Kitley was getting away with mayhem, walks and fouls in the paint against Kylee and Bionca.
She picked up no fouls.
In fact, the Cards only went to the line once in the first 20 minutes. A mere 10 total fouls (seven on Louisville, three on Virginia Tech) were called, total in those 20 minutes. The ref crew of Eric Brewton, Mark Berger and Maggie Tieman were not spinning the pea. Overall, we love that cessation of stopping play...but the jostling in the paint was constant and, it seemed, only Bionca was the "alleged" guilty one -- with two fouls.
The Cards started the third quarter with defense on their mind and put the thoughts into action. Virginia Tech managed just three points in the first five minutes. In that same time frame, Jaz was taking over and scored seven points. Her "drive the court and take the three" with 5:15 left in the quarter went in and the Cardinal faithful were up and roaring again. The score was 46-27 now. Tech looked frustrated and beat.
Kasa had the play of the quarter (maybe the game) was 1:33 on the clock. She grabbed an errant Shook shot and took on the VT trees of Trinity Baptiste and Alex Obouh Fegue. She got the shot off, despite being hacked by Obouh Feige. The shot went in over the 6"5" center. For once, someone blew a whistle and Kasa went to the line and completed the old-fashioned three-point play. The heart of a champion is alive and beating in Kasa. She knows no fear, goes for any loose ball in question and her play gave Louisville a 51-32 advantage. Kylee's jumper with 11 seconds to go in the third ended the quarter at 53-32. Guess who made it happen? A Robinson rebound and feed.
"E" got into the three-point contest with her first make of the game at the 6:20 mark to make it 60-40 Cards. Virginia Tech came up with a way-too-late, futile surge to go on a 7-2 run in the following two minutes, getting production from their bench, but Evans quieted the run with a beautiful, step-back three with 4:28 to go to make it 65-47.
Coach Walz put Jess back in the game with 3:33 to go and she promptly found Kylee with a pass that set up Kylee's third three-pointer of the night. With 1:32 to play, the substitutions began. Ya-Ya, Kylee, Jaz and Bionca all left the floor, one-by-one, to loud cheers of appreciation from the attendees. Evans came back in...basically because Walz had no active bench player left to substitute for Jess with less than a minute to go...with Lockhart, Duvall, Dixon and Robinson already in the game.
A 70-53 win over Virginia Tech. The post game celebrations were poignant, each senior looking, pointing and heading to their families in Section 117. Asia Durr was there with her family, her brother T.j. a senior student-athlete manager who was also recognized before the game. She exchanged hugs with me as she and T.J. left their seats to mingle with the team. Samantha Williams was in the house, in from EKU, to see those seniors she loved. She was so influential in their recruitment, spending countless road hours scouting and evaluating them. Convincing Jeff Walz that they had to get Bionca Dunham.
Dunham with a touching moment with boyfriend, football great Mekhi Becton -- who is destined for great things in the NFL.
What a great, early Sunday in the downtown arena! We now look ahead to the ACC Tournament, but, the final regular season game for five fabulous seniors. They all kissed the Cardinal Bird on the court simultaneously after the game. Wonderful. Excellent. Next?
THE FRED REPORT
|Fred "Mr Rogers" would have agreed.|
A wonderful day in the Cards neighborhood
REBOUNDS -- Kylee with 12 and Bionca with nine as the Cards out-rebounded the school from Blacksburg, VA 36-31. Kasa with four grabs was fantastic, also. That'll get another high mark and a CAPITAL "R" for controlling the boards.
EFFICIENCY/EXECUTION -- Louisville limited the miscues with just eight turnovers. They tallied 18 assists on 29 made baskets. Nine threes made for 36%. The Cards excelled at points-off-turnovers (21-7) and 2nd Chance points (16-4). Let's keep the capital letters rolling, a CAPITAL "E" for smart, effective play.
DEFENSE -- Spectacular again, with just 53 points allowed. 21 of those came in the fourth quarter for VT, when the issue was long decided and over. Louisville forced 17 turnovers, had five steals and had their seventh straight game where they held the foe to less than sixty points. Yes, the three you expected might shine for VT (Mabrey, Cole and Kitley) did reach double figures, but, three on five rarely wins a game for the "three". I'll end the final stat we track in the final regular season Fred report with a CAPITAL "D".
FINAL FRED RECAP: F-R-E-D
THEY SAID IT
Post-game presser comments below:
KYLEE SHOOK/JAZ JONES
VT's KENNY BROOKS, TAJA COLE, ELIZABETH KITLEY
There was worry about a good Virginia Team coming in here, needing a win to get the double bye in the ACC Tournament.
That worry soon turned into a raucous, Cardinal Community celebration. The WBB Cards are hot, winners of six in a row, and go into the ACC Tournament trending and running on all eight cylinders.
They'll take the court Friday at 2 p.m. Up first? Either Syracuse or Virginia, who are the Thursday #8 vs #9 combatants.
This has been an amazing, wonderful regular season ride. One bump, yes, but so many big wins, stories to proudly relate to and players who bought in, brought it and delivered. I'll miss these five, but, not ready to say good bye to them yet. I'm wanting three more game in Greensboro with a ACC Tournament champ title, and then see the Cards end the season with six more wins and a National Championship.
Who's with me?
I'll be providing updates, live on the scene in Greensboro, starting Wednesday night. The party continues...
(PHOTOS BY JARED ANDERSON)
SOFTBALL WINS AT TULSA 3-2
Taylor Roby provided the fireworks and heroics yesterday against Tulsa, with a top of the eighth inning "grass, wall...touch 'em all" home run to give the Cards a 3-2 win. Her team-leading sixth home run of the year came on the Cards first batter of the inning on a 0-2 count
Roby also pitched the final three innings of the contest to get the pitching win...shutting down the Hurricane in the bottom of the eighth to clinch it.
Louisville jumped out to a 2-0 lead in this one, a run in the first inning on a Carmyn Greenwood solo shot and another in the fourth inning. Jenni Servi reached on a fielder's choice in the fourth, stole second and scored on a Celene Funke single.
The Cards (7-12) return home and will play their first home game of the season Friday when they welcome Illinois to Ulmer Stadium to start the Red and Black Challenge Tournament.
Welcome home, Cards Softball! Play great in my absence and take all five games!
THE CARDINAL COUPLE ACC TOURNAMENT CONTEST
Yes, we're running the popular event again this March!
Entries MUST be in by 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Earliest entry gets the nod in a tie.
You can submit your picks a couple of ways. They way we prefer is to leave them in any of the comments sections here at the site over the next three days. If needed, you can e-mail Jared Anderson, bracket judge and jury, at:
As a last resort, send them to me (Paulie) at: email@example.com
If you don't see your picks in the leader board, it's a possibility we didn't get them. Sorry, but no entries after Wednesday 1 p.m. We will not review any "you missed my picks" claims that surface a couple of days after the start of the contest. E-mail Jared if you have a question.
We cannot guarantee a "text" attempt will be received or entered. Don't do it.
We'll provide updates after each round.
If you're new at this, we'll reveal Sonja's Picks for you today and her format for listing them. Remember, your entry should have fourteen winners on it:
Wednesday: North Carolina, Notre Dame, Clemson
Thursday: Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Boston College
Friday: Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina St., Boston College
Saturday: Louisville, North Carolina St.
Enter your picks in other formats that you care to, use abbreviations if you wish, but make sure you identify your pick clearly and correctly (if it's a "state" school like Florida State or North Carolina State, make sure you put "ST" or "State" in the pick). "Tech" schools need the state name in front of them (Virginia or Georgia).
YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE BRACKET AT THE LINK WE'VE PROVIDED BELOW:
LINK: 2020 ACC WBB BRACKET
Have fun, good luck and choose wisely...