Fourth Quarter Collapse Dooms Louisville's ACC Hopes
So that wasn't very fun.
Thanks to the airing of last night's game on RSN (check out the last two episodes of the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast for our thoughts on that), I wasn't able to watch. Based on my twitter feed, the ESPN app gamecast, and the final score, that may have been for the better. Louisville gave up a 17-0 run to Miami over the last four-and-a-half minutes of the game to lose on a buzzer beater 61-59. Destiny Harden scored the games final fifteen points, including a game-tying three with 31 seconds to go and the aforementioned buzzer beater after Louisville committed a shot clock violation while trying to milk the game clock. She finished with a game high 27 and shot 11-15 from the floor.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, last night's game was the tenth time this season that a team has led by at least 14 points entering the fourth quarter and gone on to lose. If that sounds oddly specific and also oddly familiar, that would be because Louisville is the only team to have been on the losing end of such a stat twice. The first came against NC State in a road game where a top-five team managed to put the train back on the tracks against the Cards. Last night's game was a bit of a different story. Miami gave Louisville a scare last month, but yesterday the Cards went up 16 to open the final quarter and an Olivia Cochran jumper put them up by 15 with 5:44 remaining.
Jeff Walz said after the game that he took the blame for Louisville's collapse, indicating that he didn't have the right combination of players on the floor. While that may be partially to blame, an utter inability to make, or even take, shots that could ice the game over the final segment had more to do with it than anything. After the media timeout, Louisville's possessions were as follows (point margin and time of possession precede result):
+15, 19s - Turnover
+15, 3s - Turnover
+13, 20s - Missed 3
+10, 30s - Timeout -> Turnover
+8, 54s - Missed 2, OREB, Missed 2
+6, 11s - Missed 3
+6, 27s - Missed 2 (paint)
+3, 24s - Turnover (off. foul)
-0-, 30s - Timeout -> Turnover (shot clock violation)
Over 5:24, Louisville had nine possessions and held the ball for 3:48 (give or take with running clock after Miami made baskets). In that time, they managed to turn the ball over on more than half of those possessions while matching the number of shots to the number of turnovers. Just one of those shots was in the paint and the Cards earned one foul, off the ball. Prior to the final segment, Louisville had scored 20 points in the paint and coaxed Miami into 14 team fouls which resulted in 18 Louisville free throw attempts. While Walz can blame himself for lineup usage (he made 10 substitutions in the final segment), the execution comes down to the players on the floor.
Jeff Walz post game remarks can be heard and seen HERE
Louisville has had some really great fourth quarters this season, but they've also had, as I previously noted, some really terrible ones. While the one against NC State looks worse because they gave up 31 points and ended up losing by nine, both came after Louisville showed dominance in previous quarters. In the NC State game, Louisville used a 16-6 second quarter to lead by 13 at the half. In last night's game with Miami, the Cards took what had been a fairly tight affair (leading by five at the half), and opened things up with a 21-12 third quarter.
After shooting 9-27 from the floor in the first half, Louisville came alive with an 8-13 third quarter. That evaporated to a 2-9 shooting performance in the final stanza.
If Jeff Walz petitioned the NCAA to make DI WBB a three-quarter affair, one would hardly blame him.
Many of the stats for this one are quite similar, as the final score would suggest. Louisville had a massive free throw advantage (18-5), but Miami only committed six more fouls. The teams tied on Points in the Paint and Fast Break Points, and the Points off Turnovers and Second Chance points combined for a difference of just one. While we're talking stats, let's just get into the Reports.
|"Fred, what happened? Fred?...Fred !!"|
F - Free Throws: Louisville went 15-18. 83% is pretty good, and a 10 point advantage at the stripe should earn you a healthy advantage in the game. I haven't written a FRED Report in a hot minute and I can never remember the two break points, but I'm going to give a capital 'F' and not let my frustration with the final segment skew what was a good night at the free throw line for Louisville.
R - Rebounds: Louisville outrebounded Miami 32-25 and did so by winning the battle of the boards on both ends of the floor. While the Cards grabbed three more offensive rebounds than Miami, they were able to turn those 12 offensive rebounds into just nine points. That 0.75 points per offensive rebound slightly trails Miami's 0.78, but it's enough to make it a wash. Louisville's rebounding advantage gave them more possessions, especially late in the game, but they were unable to capitalize. All that said, I'll have to grant a capital 'R' for the effort. Emily Engstler led the team with nine, behind only Harden's ten for the game lead, but the scorers granted a total of eight team rebounds across the two teams so who knows how many rebounds people actually had.
E - Effort/Execution: Hmm... Here's where I struggle. Louisville's effort was there throughout the whole game. They didn't give up, didn't get frustrated and foul, didn't commit any technical fouls, and kept working to close out the game. The problem is that they couldn't close it out. If it were just an effort category, I'd probably go with at least a lowercase letter here, but I gave a whole rundown of the fourth quarter collapse. Those five turnovers were just a fraction of the 21 total throughout the game. Louisville needed one, maybe two buckets after the media timeout. Instead, they gave up 17 straight points, 15 to the same player, and lost on a buzzer beater which followed a turnover which followed a timeout. No letter.
D - Defense: Another tough category. Outside of Harden, Miami shot 13-40 from the floor and 4-16 from beyond the arc. Louisville forced 18 turnovers, including grabbing eight steals, and had two blocks. I come back to the final segment though. I ran down Louisville's possessions earlier, but not Miami's. I'll save you the time and condense it here: Louisville forced one turnover and Miami missed just two shots. If you don't start Miami's counter until the possession where they begin their run, they scored 17 points on eight possessions with just one miss. The game winner was a turnaround jumper by the best player on a play in which Miami had only 1.4 seconds to execute. Despite the defensive effort for the rest of the game, I can't give a letter for the final segment alone. No letter.
Final Fred Tally: F-R-_-_
C - Care: Louisville committed 21 turnovers. Should I save us both some time and say they aren't getting a letter in C or A? We'll run the numbers anyway. 21 turnovers exceeds Miami's 18 committed and their 18.4 forced per game. While Miami is 63rd in the country in turnovers forced, we still expect the Cards to take care of the basketball. No letter.
A - Assists: The assist-to-turnover ratio isn't going to be overcome. Louisville's total points could tell you that. The Cards finished with 11 assists on 19 made baskets. An ATO of 0.52 is a pretty good indicator that you might lose (Miami's was 0.83), but the Cards did have an assist rate of 58%, so we'll grant a lowercase 'a'.
S - Steals: Louisville's eight steals just crept them over the 7.5 benchmark, but their lack of ball security bites them in this category as well, as nine of their 21 turnovers came off of Miami steals. Nevertheless, they'll earn a lowercase 's'.
E - Efficiency: The FRED Report has already told us that the Cards will get at least a lowercase e, as they shot well over 75% from the line. Unfortunately, the final segment kept them from shooting 40% from the floor. Louisville's 19-49 performance was good for just 38.8% shooting. They entered the quarter at 42.5%, which isn't great, but is serviceable. The most painful part of this made-up metric is that if they had made a shot on their final possession instead of committing the shot clock violation, they would have finished at 20-50 for exactly 40%. Lowercase 'e'.
So, the final tallies in thereports for the Cards are F-R-_-_ and _-a-s-e. Statistically, not a terrible game, as I noted earlier, but the last segment really soured the entire game. It's a five-minute stretch that will be talked about a lot for the remainder of the WBB season, and it may cost Louisville a 1-seed. Charlie Creme tweeted after the game that he still had the Cards on the top line, but that they've opened the door for Baylor to replace them. The committee is certainly unlikely to look favorably on the most recent tape they'll get of Louisville as well.
The worst part of all though, is that Louisville is limping into the NCAA tournament. Having come off of multiple seasons where Louisville falls in the ACC tournament after a strong season and uses that to buoy themselves for an NCAA run, the Cards are in a different spot now. The season opened with a loss to Arizona in what we would call a surprise, and Louisville has never really looked like the juggernaut we've come to expect. They've looked very good, don't get me wrong, and at times great. But the NCAA tournament is about putting six games together in a row.
It doesn't have to be your best ball, but it will have to be pretty daggone close, especially at the end. In addition to that, it's about being able to hang on. In the back of your mind in most of Louisville's games, there's been the concern that they couldn't hang on. NC State, UNC, and Miami have all taken advantage of that, with Miami nearly done so twice. Louisville has plenty of top-25 wins to hang their hats on, but the next two weeks will need to come with a lot of soul-searching about how to make sure that the next six games are all played with the mentality of making it to the next one. For now we'll sit and wait.
Pick 'Em Standings
Last night's game will have plenty of knock-on effects in the tournament, but the immediate impact will be unfelt, since every entry dropped the UofL vs. Miami game. Louisville was the first unanimous pick in the tournament. Only nine brackets have their champion remaining, three can win the final three games, and four brackets can't earn anymore wins. The standings entering the semifinal round are:
9-2: Kenneth Stark Sr, Joe Hill, Louavulfan35, Thomas, and Katy
8-3: Nick O, Clifford, Bobby B, Jeff, and Jason
7-4: Douglas, Paul, Vivian, Curtis, Daryl, and Case
6-5: Sonya, Clemson Cuz, Arthur, Jared, Blue Lou, and David Watson
5-6: Kellie and Kenny B
The CC Chimps are bringing up the rear at 2-9
Softball Opens Ulmer with a Pair of Losses
While wins over Hofstra and Illinois wouldn't have likely salved the wounds of the WBB loss, they certainly would have helped encourage Louisville softball fans that this might be a year in which they could really compete. The Cards were able to hang tough in the early season tournaments in Florida and left the Sunshine State with a few nice wins. Unfortunately, they seem to have left the bats down south, as they've now lost four straight and five of six since leaving Florida. They scored 13 runs in their first two games against Arkansas, picking up a nice 8-4 win in the second, but they've scored just five runs in the four games since, twice being run-ruled without crossing the plate.
Yesterday afternoon saw the Cards take the field in Ulmer Stadium for the first time in 2022 as they open the Cardinal Classic. Louisville took on Hofstra in the first game of the invitational, and it was Gabby Holloway in the circle. The teams went 15 outs on 17 batters to open the game before Louisville finally got something going in the third. A pop-out opened the inning, but a triple followed to put the first Louisville runner in scoring position. A groundout put the threat in danger of ending harmlessly, and Hofstra nearly got out of it by inducing a groundout from Carmyn Greenwood. The shortstop booted it, though, and Vanessa Miller scored from third on the error.
Hofstra trailed for only an inning break. They'd use two walks and two hits to score two runs and would not yield the 2-1 lead for the remainder of the game. Louisville would put three more runners in scoring position, including one with no outs in the fourth and a triple in the fifth, but they were unable to bring anyone in. Hofstra, meanwhile, could manage just one more hit, as Taylor Roby came in for Holloway in the fifth and pitched 2.2 innings with two walks and two strikeouts.
The Cards headed back to the locker room to recover from the rather stunning loss (it was Hofstra's first win of the season), and prepared to take on a much better Illinois team. It would be inaccurate to say that Illinois struck early and often, but they did strike. The Illini scored four in the second inning and two more in the fourth before Chardonnay Harris could get an out. Roby entered with a runner on first and back-to-back hits gave Harris a seventh run. Roby got a groundout for the first out of the inning but it was a productive one to score the eight run of the game. A walk and steal were followed by a wild pitch but a great throw and tag kept the runner at third from scoring. Another walk was nearly followed by another steal, but this time the runner was thrown out.
Louisville's offense was silent in the second game, as the Cards managed just three hits over five innings. They earned no walks. The 8-0 loss moved Louisville to 8-8 on the season, and they're 1-7 after their hot start. The Cards don't have much time to lick their wounds, as they're back in action today at 3:00 PM to take on Western Michigan.
(SOFTBALL PHOTOS BY JARED ANDERSON)
LAX Hosts Boston College Today
No easy task for Louisville Lacrosse today, as defending NCAA champs Boston College come to town for a noon match at the Louisville Lacrosse Stadium.
The LAX Eagles are 5-0 on the season and none of them have been close. They've downed Northwestern, Massachusetts, Boston University, Virginia and Brown so far this season.
Scott Teeter's Louisville squad is 4-2 on the season and most recently defeated Butler. 4-0 at home and 0-2 in Colorado for LouLax. Last times these two met, BC won easily 18-3.
It'll be on ACCNX if you need a break from basketball.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast
|(Jeff and Paulie may just discuss curling today...)|
It's a thin crew today as Paulie and Jeff will hold down the fort on their own. The absences were planned well in advance this week, so no fair accusing any of the rest of us of dodging talking about the loss. It'll be a tough show, as the crew never likes talking about losses. As always, you can check out the live stream of the show by going to the Cardinal Couple YouTube page and clicking on the live video. Jeff usually creates that about an hour before the show, which officially starts at 11 AM Eastern. If the live time doesn't work for you, there are plenty of playback options, so be sure to check out whichever is best for you!
Cardinal Couple YouTube: Link
Anchor (podcast host): Link
Apple Podcasts: Link
Google Podcasts: Link
Overcast (free account required): Link
Pocket Casts (free account and app required): Link
Until next time, Go Cards!