DEFENSE, BBALANCED SCORING LEAD CARDS PAST IRISH
First off, HAPPY VALENTINE DAY readers. I've always thought it a bit silly to emphasis just one day a year to throw love and such at the one you love, but, if you feel it do it today. Love is something that is a 365 day a year joy here for me. I got lucky with Sonja entering my life. ...
Louisville women's basketball held Notre Dame to 21 first half points and 26 second half points and had three hit double figures in the 26-point dismantling of Notre Dame Sunday afternoon in front of 10,056 fans in the KFC YUM! Center.
Kianna Smith led all scorers with 17 points, Hailey Van Lith added 16 and Chelsie Hall finished with 13 on an afternoon where Louisville took control in the second quarter and held the Irish to just 31.7% shooting fo the game and just 2-22 from three point range. The Cards improve to 22-2 on the year and 13-1 in the ACC.
The Cards and Notre Dame battled to a Cards 14-13 advantage in the first quarter -- Louisville scoring the final four points in the quarter on baskets from Emily Engstler and Kasa Robinson in the last two minutes to take the lead. Louisville was dominant on the boards 14-9 and was doing the job on Irish three-point attempts, Notre Dame attempted nine but made just one..Engstler had a productive first ten minutes with six points and six rebounds. Notre Dame lost forward Sam Brunelle with just over four minutes left in the first when she went to the bench with a shoulder injury and did not return to the game.
Notre Dame's last lead of the game came just 16 seconds into second quarter action when Olivia Miles made a layup. Louisville held Notre Dame to just four points over the next eight minutes and had established a 27-19 lead after two Olivia Cochran free throws. A Maddy Westbeld putback let Notre Dame cut the margin to 27-21, but the Cards got a huge three from Hall and two K. Smith free throws to close out the half and take a 32-21 lead to the locker room.
Hall had seven first half points to lead the Louisville scoring attack and eight of the nine Cards who saw first half action scored. Louisville's lead probably could have been larger, but Engstler went to the bench after her second foul of the game and sat out the final eight minutes of the half.
The Cards used a 26-16 scoring advantage in the third quarter to continue to pull away from the visitors. K. Smith, Van Lith and Hall combined for 20 of Louisville's third quarter points and the UofL defense got four steals and forced six turnovers to build the lead to 58-34 before Notre Dame scored the final three points of the quarter to make it a 58-37 Cardinals lead.
Kianna Smith continued with the hot hand in the fourth quarter coring seven points and the Cards eventually built to lead to 29 at 70-41 with three minutes to go. Walz inserted Ramani Parker and Sydni Schetnan into the game in the final minutes, Parker nailed a three pointer for the Cards final score and Louisville won the final quarter 15-10 for the 73-49 win.
THE FRED REPORT
Free Throws -- An impressive 11-14 from the charity stripe for the Cards. Cochran went 4-4 and three other Cards went 2-2. 78.6% surpasses our 70% minimum for a letter, so we award the CAPITAL "F" in this category.
Rebounding -- A 50-32 advantage for the Cards on the boards, Engstler grabbing 12 for Louisville and Cochran added eight. No problem here in bestowing a CAPITAL "R" for excellence in the grab category/
Effort/Execution -- 44.4% shooting for the game was efficient and 14 assists on 28 made baskets isn't bad either. On a night where Liz and Olivia had just six points combined, it was the Cards guard play that got the win. Just 13 turnovers and 25-56 shooting from Van Lith, the Smiths, Hall, Verhulst and Robinson. Let's go with another CAPITAL "E" for the balanced attack and and passing.
Defense -- Notre Dame couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a wrecking ball and that was because the Cards threw a huge defensive effort at them. 20-63 shooting, 16 turnovers and nine UofL steals. A CAPITAL "D" for stifling the Irish.
FINAL FRED TALLY: F-R-E-D
The Cards won easier than I thought they would and looked very efficient and effective in doing so. It's like we've said all season long, you just never know who's going to have the hot hand for this UofL squad -- tonight it was the Cards guards and Engstler. There is strength in numbers and the Cards always seem to have plentiful numbers of players who contribute effectively.
(PHOTOS BY JARED ANDERSON)