DANA DELIVERS AS CARDS DODGE DEMON DEACONS 85-63
It was a narrow escape for a 13-0 #1 in the country Louisville women's basketball squad yesterday against Wake Forest and it was Dana Evans who drove the get-away vehicle to keep the Cards unbeaten.
The scenario was like one of those old time, noir moves from the 40's. The heroes were in trouble. Wake Forest was playing the role of the villains, giving the protagonists (the Cards) trouble at every turn. Things looked bleak, as the plot thickened and darkened -- a nine point home squad lead for Jen Hoover's Deacs and just 7:15 left in the scenario. Would our heroines survive? Could they manage to escape the clutches of the crew conspiring to send them off the deep end? Cue the screeching violins and trumpet blasts. These birds from up north were grounded and the hunter was approaching.
Evans delivered 10 of her team-leading 25 points in the final seven-minute stretch and, when it came down to crunch time, with the Cards trailing 63-62, she drove to the basket -- maneuvered around the taller Wake defenders -- and sank an improbable, off-balance and falling down jumper over out-stretched hands. And drew a foul from defender Gina Conti.
Basket good, Cards leading 64-62 now,,,and the "cool as a January morning" Evans, after a few celebratory bumps with teammates, strode to the charity stripe and knocked down the free one for the 65-63 lead. Wake Forest had a final chance but the Deacs Ivana Raca went for the win instead of the tie and her three at the buzzer was wide left. The Cards had survived
This was Louisville's worst game of the season and I don't think you'll find many who would disagree.
We learned that a four-guard line up against a two-center opposition formation wasn't going to work. Wake out-rebounded the Cards 43-32 and had 38 points-in-the-paint, compared to the Cards 32.
What was supposed to be a UofL romp over a squad that had just gotten shellacked by Georgia Tech by 29 a few days prior turned into a frantic, nail-biting -- but successful -- scramble for the win.
The Cards couldn't hit shots...the 39.7% from the floor won't go into the annals of "best game ever" discussions. The threes were even worse, at 33%. Fortunately, Wake went 1-11 from beyond the arc and shot the face-palm, what-are-we-doing 12-24 from the free throw line. The Homer Simpson "DOH!" exclamation audio comes to mind when analyzing Wake's three-and-free shooting. If you are a Wake apologist and need to point to two things that cost you the upset Sunday afternoon, here's your signs.
Evans received a ton of help from her sidekick at guard Elizabeth Balogun. "E" was masterful with 12 points, six grabs, three steals and three blocks. One can't say enough about the clutch minutes Liz Dixon contributed or the double-double Olivia Cochran generated (10 points, 11 rebounds).
The Cards got a huge boost off the bench from Norika Konno's five-point run in the second quarter that kept the Cards in a some-what comfortable lead. It wasn't Kianna Smith night, we'll just leave that comment right there and not amplify it. The "bakery" was open for Hailey Van Lith early, her five turnovers were by far the highest on the Cards squad, but, let's give her credit for the huge bucket she delivered when the Cards were mustering a comeback in the 4th. quarter.
In the end, though...it was the best guard in the ACC, arguably the best guard in NCAA women's college basketball who refused to lose when the chips were down, brought the sunshine on a cloudy day and put the Cards back on the flight to Louisville with the win. Dana doesn't like to lose. She didn't and Louisville loves her for it.
THE FRED REPORT
|WE drag Freddy Krueger out, for the |
"Nightmare on I-40" Cardinal win
FREE THROWS -- The Cards were perfect from the charity stripe -- 13 for 13 -- and 11 of them came from two players, Evans and Cochran. NO QUESTION ABOUT THE CAPITAL "F" EARNED HERE.
REBOUNDS -- Olivia Cochran was doing all she could in the grabs category but Wake Forest out-rebound Louisville 43-32. The discrepancy was most noticeable on the offensive boards, where Wake owned them -- 24-13. No letter here.
EFFORT/EXECUTION -- The Cards shot well to begin and end the game but the middle two quarters were less-than-exemplary. Too much dribbling and not enough passing against the Wake defense. Only 11 assists on 23 made baskets. Yes, the fourth-quarter comeback was state-of-the-art, so I'll settle for a lower-case "e" here and more than a few may argue whether even that was warranted.
DEFENSE -- If there was a free throw defense stat/formula...never mind....Louisville held Wake to the same exact shooting percentage (39.7) that the Cards managed. Wake was beating the Cards up pretty badly in the paint, though. The Cards did win the steals (8-6) and blocks (4-1) stats, and allowed just 63 points...and they did win the game, so, I'll award a lower-case "d" , despite the Cards losing the second-chance stat 19-13. Their defense was two-points more effective than Wake's in the end
FINAL FRED TALLY: F-_-e-d
Jeff Walz was asked how the Cards designed the winning shot and he glibly responded "Pray". It was a "W" ...t though, and they count the same in the standings whether they're by 2 or 22. That sounds good for a close-to-article sentence here, but I'd toss this game video in the toilet and never view it again, if I were the Cardinal coaching staff. Louisville exorcized the Demons on a Sunday, but, the win was in doubt until...
|Bassy's brood flies north for a bird battle Tuesday.|
Louisville entertains "the U" next, when Miami comes to town for a Tuesday, 4 p.m. matinee at the KFC YUM Center. The Canes come in at 7-5 (4-5 in ACC play) and were off Sunday. They probably needed the rest, since their last game was a furious , come-from-behind win over Pittsburgh 72-68. This one looked to be all Panthers early on, they held a 31-10 first-quarter advantage, but couldn't maintain it.
Have a puddle-dodging Monday!