STRONG MIDDLE QUARTERS DRIVE CARDS PAST WAKE FOREST
Louisville Women's Basketball used a strong 20 minutes in the middle of the game (the second and third quarters) and a 42-14 run to forge past Wake Forest 72-60 Sunday afternoon in the KFC YUM! Center before a crown of 8802. Louisville, now 16-2 and 6-1 in the ACC got double digit performances from Hailey Van Lith (17 points), Emily Engstler (15 points) and Liz Dixon (12 points) to drop the Demon Deacons to their seventh conference loss and fifth loss in a row.
The final score really isn't indicative of the relative ease of this Louisville win.
Wake was competitive, yes, for the first quarter and actually held a 22-21 lead over Louisville after ten minutes. The Cards went on a 23-1 run in the second quarter that developed because of the two things Louisville has done well all year -- playing suffocating defense and scoring off the turnovers they created. They also shot 77% in the second quarter and held the Demon Deacons to 1-14 (7%) shooting.
What was unique about the second quarter run is that Louisville made the huge run with non-starters Dixon, Kasa Robinson and Ahlana Smith seeing a combined total of 29 of the 50 available player minutes for Walz. Wake failed to make a basket in the final 9:40 of the second quarter and Dixon (4-4) led a Louisville inside game that featured the Cards outscoring The Deacs 10-0 in the paint. It was 44-26 at halftime and Walz had already played nine of the 12 players he had dressed and available for the contest. Norika Konno wasn't available for the game --Walz indicating she was dealing with some health issues -- but getting better. The Cards bench had 20 of Louisville's 44 points, and let's give credit to Van Lith, who had a spectacular first half with 12 points (on 5-7 shooting) and five assists.
The Cards continued the assault with a strong beginning to the second half -- steadily increasing the lead to a 61-28 advantage with 3:47 left in the third quarter. The Cardinals run since the end of the first quarter was 40-6 and Walz pulled Van Lith, Engstler, Dixon and Hall for Ahlana and Kianna Smith, Verhulst and Cochran . The Cards would total just two more points the remainder of the quarter, compared to WFU's nine, but UofL was still comfortably in charge after three quarters...63-37.
The fourth quarter was a bit of an enigma. A quarter where Wake forced Louisville into seven turnovers and just 1-12 shooting. True, Walz experimented with a lot of combinations in the final ten minutes...but when asked about the "flow" of the fourth quarter, Walz immediately responded "Flow? There was none. We were backed up. Constipated. We needed a plunger"
Wake steadily cut into the Cards lead, knocking it down to 15 with 1:53 to play and Jewel Spear's two threes in the final 30 seconds made the final score look somewhat close at 72-60. Merissah Russell tied Hailey Van Lith for high scorer in the fourth with three points -- Russell's coming from the free throw line and Van Lith's on a three. Walz played all 12 players in the final quarter ---Dixon seeing a scant 35 seconds and almost everyone else around three to seven minutes.
THE FRED REPORT
|Freddy Mercury would have acknowledged that|
the Cards were the "queens" of the court Thursday night
FREE THROWS -- An impressive outing for UofL, making 12 of their 14 attempts. Only five Cards attempted charity tosses, Engstler and Russell each making three of their four tries. 85.7% I'll take that number any game, and can easily award a CAPITAL "F".
REBOUNDING -- The Cards won the rebounding battle 34-33 but Wake outrebounded UofL in the first and third quarters. Emily Engstler led UofL with 8 in 23 minutes, but the Demon Deacons were considerably smaller than UofL. The edge is good for a small case "r" for UofL, Cochran an Dixon combined for just 8 rebounds and you need more than that out of your posts.
EFFORT/EXECUTION --The fourth quarter slide was disappointing -- and 17 turnovers is more than I like to see. But, 51% shooting for the game is impressive and 19 assists on 26 made baskets is excellent. So, I'll award a lower case "e" here as well.
DEFENSE -- Defense created the 33 point lead, but lack of it in the fourth quarter allowed Wake Forest to eliminate 21 points of that lead. The Cards allowed Spear to have her usual big night, but UofL did a good job on everyone else. I would have awarded a capital D here after three quarters, but the disappointing fourth quarter drops that down to a small case "d". You need to finish what you start, and lowly Clemson held these Deacons to just 44 points
final fred tally: F-r-e-d
So, a win that most expected, but maybe by not as much as expected. Give Wake credit for not completely folding and closing up shop in he end, but besides Spear, Jen Hoover doesn't have a lot available to compliment her. I won't go into detail about the officiating, if you were there, you can make your own opinions on it...I'll just say I'd be surprised if any of this crew calls any of the NCAA Final Four games...
Louisville returns to action Thursday night when they host Florida State.