Cards Use Big Second Quarter to Coast to NCAA Opening Win
The Cards got on top of the Great Danes early, with Kianna Smith hitting her first three just six seconds into the game. Albany was able to keep it close for the first few minutes, thanks to a few empty possessions for the Cards, and ultimately got the score to 8-7 with 7:17 remaining. Louisville missed a shot on the next possession, giving Albany their first chance at a lead, but a turnover gave the Cards another chance to extend the lead, and they would go on to outscore the Danes 11-0 over the remainder of the quarter.
Louisville scored the basket that made it 19-7 with 3:22 remaining in the first quarter. Olivia Cochran scored in the first minute of the second quarter to make it 21-7, but the Cards would go on another drought and allow Albany to close the gap to 21-16. Hailey Van Lith finally broke their run with 6:19 remaining in the half, and Louisville decided that they had had quite enough of this plucky Albany team. The final six minutes of the half saw a team that looked almost entirely unlike the one that played the rest of the game, as Louisville went on a 25-4 run to head into the locker room leading 48-20.
Van Lith's 20 points led all scorers in this one, and three other Cards (Emily Engstler, Kianna Smith, and Olivia Cochran) finished in double digits. Kayla Cooper finished with 14 for UAlbany, and Ellen Hahne had 11. With her 17 points, Engstler eclipsed the 1000-point mark in her career (obviously not all with Louisville), but she becomes the 33rd player to do it as a Cardinal and the second this season, with Kianna Smith accomplishing the feat in December.
As you might expect, Louisville won in nearly every statistical category, so let's have a look at the FRED and CASE Reports to make it official.
The FRED Report
F - Free Throws: Though I said they led nearly all categories, we, of course, have to start with the one they didn't. The Cards outscored the Danes at the line 11-7, but they left nearly as many points at the stripe as Albany scored. UAlbany was 7-7 in their chances, while Louisville was just 11-16. That's good for only 68.8%, which does not cross the threshold for a letter. No letter.
E - Effort/Execution: The long drought Louisville went on could be forgiven by the huge run in the second quarter, though the third quarter loss is unfortunate. HVL said after the game that the big gap in games (two weeks thanks to the Miami loss), impacted the team's sharpness, which is fair. Despite the scoring drought, Louisville managed to make more than half their shots and very nearly limited the turnovers to single digits. It'd be pretty harsh to award anything less than a capital 'E' for a 32-point victory.
D - Defense: Albany made a shade over 40% of their shots, but the Cards forced 26 turnovers and scored 37 points off of those turnovers. They included 18 steals and Louisville added four blocks while committing only nine fouls. Sounds like a capital 'D' defensive performance to me.
The CASE Report
C - Care: As I mentioned, Louisville committed almost single digit turnovers, as they finished with ten. That's far fewer than Albany's 26 and right at 62.5% of Albany's forced turnover average of 16. I can never remember quite what I set the bar at for that performance, so let's set a new standard of 70%. (That may be what I've done before, and also 70% seems like a nice number for this.) That gives Louisville a capital 'C'.
S - Steals: Louisville had more steals than they committed turnovers themselves. Need I say more? Capital 'S'.
E - Efficiency: I've already given away the secret about their shooting performance. Louisville was pretty daggone good from the floor. They finished 33-63, good for 52.4%. They also shot 37.5% from beyond the arc (6-16), but, as we mentioned, they fell short at the line. They'll earn a lowercase 'e', and hopefully they'll make the most of their opportunities for freebies going forward.
The Cards finished with final tallies of _-r-E-D and C-_-S-e, a mixed bag of results. They managed to win by 32, but it was in a 1/16 game on their home floor. It'd be quite disappointing had they done much less. Hopefully this was the game they needed to shake off the rust, and I think it was, based on the big run in the second quarter. I don't give much thought to the closeness of the second half, since Louisville already led by so many points.
After one day of games, Kenneth Stark Sr. leads the way in the bracket challenge with a 14-2 record, with Sonya hot on his heels at 13-3. We'll have a full report following the conclusion of the first round in tomorrow's article.
Softball Goes Yard in Comeback Win Over GT
It was a good evening to be out on the berm at Ulmer Stadium, as you could have come away with quite a few souvenirs. Louisville and Georgia Tech combined for six homeruns in the game, as Louisville completed a huge comeback to win their ACC opener 11-8.
Louisville looked to put together a rally of their own in the bottom half, but they were cut short without scoring a run, as a groundout left runners on second and third. Louisville made their third pitching change of the game when they brought in Sam Booe to open the fifth inning. She gave up a walk and a hit to start the inning, but induced three straight groundouts to erase the mistakes. Louisville still trailed 6-0, but they at least prevented it from getting farther out of hand.
Despite her fairly straightforward inning, Booe was pulled after just the one, and Roby reentered the circle. The decision looked slightly questionable from the jump, as a single and a four-pitch walk put runners on first and second with nobody out. A strikeout preceded a sacrifice bunt, moving the runners to second and third, but another groundout got the Cards out of the inning with no added damage. They entered the bottom of the sixth, still trailing 6-5.
Servi struck out looking to open the inning, but Carmyn Greenwood tied the game with a solo shot. After that, Georgia Tech blinked and everything unraveled. The next four batters went error, walk, error, fielder's choice error, and the Cards had taken the lead 7-6 while keeping the bases loaded with one out. Vanessa Miller stepped into the box and punished the Jackets with an unearned Grand Slam. That's a tough one to swallow for the defense, but it gave the Cards an 11-6 lead they would not relinquish.
For those keeping track at home, Louisville had a team homerun cycle, scoring 1, 2, 3, and 4 runs via homerun in this one. They also hit their fourth grand slam in three games, and they've hit one in each of those three. The Cards and Yellow Jackets will be back in action today at 4PM, and the Cards will look to follow their conference opening game win with a conference opening series win.
Gabi Albiero Leads Swimming in NCAAs
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Until next time, Go Cards!