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Monday, February 12, 2024

Cards Collapse Against Cuse -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Cards Stuffed 73-72 by Orange

Road warriors they are not. Louisville women's basketball gave up a nine-point lead with five and a half minutes to go against Syracuse to lose another road game..The Cards are just 4-3 in their last seven games and still have a rematch against Notre Dame in South Bend on their schedule. Officiating gripes aside, Louisville has another road game in the northeast this week before a big game against Virginia Tech in the KFC Yum! Center on Sunday, February 18th. 

Louisville traded punches with Syracuse to open the game. Louisville jumped ahead early but were unable to stretch their lead to any more than four points for the better part of the quarter. A pair of free throws by Kiki Jefferson made the score 16-10 with 3:45 remaining in the first, and the Cards kept the Orange at arm's reach for the remainder of the quarter. Syracuse was unable to cut the lead, which Louisville grew to eight, to any less than three before Jayda Curry's buzzer beater set the final quarter score of 25-19.

In the end, this game was just out of reach...
despite Nyla Harris's best efforts.
The second started much the same, with the two teams trading baskets, misses, and turnovers. This time, however, Louisville had a six-point cushion to start. After a Nyla Harris layup gave the Cards a 33-26 lead with 6:51 to go, that cushion started to slip away. The next possession saw yet another offensive rebound by Syracuse (who had 13 in the first 15 minutes), but a Merissah Russell steal prevented a second-chance opportunity. The offense was what began to give, with Syracuse chipping away at the lead one basket at a time. A Georgia Woolley jumper cut the lead to one with two minutes remaining in the half before a couple of trips to the free throw line pushed the Cards back out a bit. Among those four free throws came Louisville's only miss of the afternoon. Louisville got the lead back to six with eleven seconds to go, but Dyaisha Fair returned the favor of Curry's buzzer beater and one-upped it by making a three from the logo. Louisville led 40-37, with the Fair three breaking the otherwise 15-15 tie in the second.

Syracuse opened the second half with the ball and the quarter started with a missed jumper, rebounded away by the Cards. It was quick offense for UofL, as just nine seconds later, Jefferson buried a three to push the lead back to six. A steal by Olivia Cochran led to a fastbreak Nyla Harris layup, and all of the sudden, Louisville was back in front by eight. Another miss (so far Fair was the final Orange player to touch the ball on every possession of the half) eventually sent Jefferson to the line, where she extended Louisville's advantage to their largest of the day: 10. Syracuse scored their first basket of the quarter on the ensuing play, and the game would remain within single digits for the duration. 

Outside of the nine-point lead I mentioned in the opening, Louisville also pushed their lead to nine with 4:32 to go in the third. This came after Syracuse had managed to cut the deficit to five, and it was short lived. With Louisville's lead coming mostly on the back of Syracuse misses, the gap shrunk rapidly when the Orange stopped missing. Less than three minutes later, Louisville was staring at a three-point lead while on defense. Another miss was followed by a Sydney Taylor layup to give the Cards a bit of breathing room. Turnovers and blocks gave way to a trip to the line for Nina Rickards, who sank two with 35 seconds to go to give Louisville a seven-point lead. Dyaisha Fair (who else) made a layup to set the score at 57-52, but Louisville couldn't do anything with their 19 second possession. Eylia Love's jumper fell away, so the third quarter ended with the Cards nursing their five-point lead.

For the majority of the fourth, Louisville looked in control. They calmly pushed the lead back to nine, but then the wheels fell off. While the stats sheet shows Louisville's latest nine-point advantage at 5:38, they were hanging on at that point. A Jefferson layup set the score at 63-54 with 6:47 to go. That basket was the last before a 10-2 Syracuse run, which extended out to a 15-5 run for the Orange to take the lead and a19-9 run over the remainder of the game. A pair of Olivia Cochran free throws put Louisville back in front with 2:03 to go, and a layup with 1:14 remaining put the Cards ahead by three. On that possession, Louisville nearly turned the ball over before Coach Walz drew up a play in the timeout that led to the score off the out of bounds play. 

The last minute was a bit chaotic. Syracuse held for a fairly late shot, and cut the lead to one with 55 seconds left. Louisville was able to hold as well, and ultimately got a Jefferson jumper in the paint. It was blocked, and Alyssa Latham was credited with her sixth as a result. Latham had four fouls, and the freshman probably should have had more, but it was the hack that came after the block, which Jefferson recovered, that was more frustrating. Latham picked up the steal, and Syracuse called a timeout to draw up their final play. Up by one, Louisville had a foul to give, but played clean defense. As the shot clock wound down, Georgia Woolley took the potential winner, but it missed. Louisville was unable to corral the rebound, and it fell to Kennedi Perkins. 

As Perkins made a move to initiate a drive, Cochran reached out and grabbed her at the waist. It was a long reach, and there wasn't a terrible amount of play for the ball, but the foul made sense. With a foul to give and a one-point lead, fouling sends Syracuse out of bounds with 2.5 seconds remaining. It's a much worse position to be in than driving the lane where you might pick up a shooting foul. We can argue the strategy if you want, but it's sound, in my opinion. Where it gets thorny, though, is when the officiating crew decides that one of the most common fouls in a late game situation is an intentional foul. Instead of an out of bounds play needing to result in a basket, Syracuse sent Dyaisha Fair to the line for two. Not only that, but they got the ball back after she made the pair. For the second game in as many opportunities (including the men), the Louisville Cardinals were screwed on late-game officiating in the JMA Wireless Dome (Carrier Dome Forever). Louisville's 72-71 victory evaporated with no time passing and they lost 73-72.

Jeff Walz is going to get a fine. It would be bad if he got a suspension, but he's going to get a fine. He even knows it, as he said as much while making the comments that will lead to it. The officiating in this game was bad. The officiating in the fourth quarter was abysmal. Syracuse finished with 12 blocks and seven steals. They only finished with 20 fouls, and one of those came on a double-technical. Louisville was whistled for 19 fouls and finished with one block and six steals. Hmm. One of those 19 (18, if you prefer, since one was a double-technical) was the "intentional" foul that sealed the game. The fouls were just one part of the issue, but it really doesn't matter.

At the end of the day, frustrating officiating or not, Louisville shot 24 free throws. They had a nine-point lead late in the game and they let it slip. They watched another road game against a ranked team go the opposite direction. I praised the Cards on the show Saturday about putting together a complete game against Notre Dame. Just looking at the quarter scores might imply they did so in this game as well, but that would ignore the 15-5 run that gave up the late lead. Louisville should have put their foot down and closed the game out. Instead, they took quick shots and made unforced errors to keep Syracuse in it. The final result is the same as games in Chapel Hill and Raleigh: a loss. Louisville has had every opportunity to stay at the top in the ACC, and they have (mostly) themselves to blame for not being there.

The FRED Report

I don't feel like doing a CASE Report today. This game was frustrating, and I kind of just steamed for a while when it ended. 

F - Free Throws: Louisville gets a glittering capital F here. They took the aforementioned 24 free throws and made 23 of them. That's really good. Syracuse was 11-13 from the line, and it would have been a lot nicer if they took two fewer, but so it goes.

Fred Jones looks on in horror.
R - Rebounding: I remarked during the game that the Cards were on their way to no letter in this category. That came when Syracuse picked up their 13th offensive rebound in the early portion of the game. Despite some improvement from UofL, I'm going to stick with my initial assessment. Louisville lost the rebounding battle 41-40 and they ultimately lost the second-chance points category as well (14-12). Syracuse had 20 offensive rebounds. The last one led to the game winning free throws. 

E - Effort/Execution: Another collapse. What else is there to say? Louisville had more turnovers than Syracuse (14-13) and they were crushed inside. They won the points in the paint battle by a pair but were out blocked 12-1. Giving up offensive rebounds left and right was also less than ideal. To their credit, the Cards had 16 assists on 23 made baskets, but they made 11 of those baskets in the first quarter. After a 64.7% first, Louisville shot 40.4% from the floor in the game. They made just four baskets in each of the remaining quarters, and they were 3-12 from beyond the arc. No letter.

D - Defense: The Cards held Syracuse to just three points under their average scoring. They gave up four more points than in the first matchup between the two teams, but the total score isn't everything. The offensive rebounds are playing in here, just as they did elsewhere, because it's just bad. The lack of forced turnovers and steals is tough as well. For the second game in a row, Louisville also let a player score (nearly) 30, as Fair finished with 29. No letter.

Maybe I'm being too harsh later in the report, but Louisville's ability to close out the game was harsh. Final tally is F-_-_-_. Not much positive in this one. 

One of the positives was Nyla Harris. Harris had a career high 22 points, and she made it a double-double with 11 boards. Harris was joined by Kiki Jefferson (13) in double-digit scoring, but she was the only Cardinal that even flirted with ten rebounds. Nina Rickards and Jayda Curry each had nine, and the latter was hampered late in the game by foul trouble. Rickards added five boards, four assists, and two steals, and she did so with just one turnover and no fouls. Only Elif Istanbulluoglu joined Rickards with no fouls in this one. Elif had three rebounds in her 11 minutes, but posted no other stats. 

Louisville falls to 20-5 and 9-3 in conference, and they move from 1/2 game ahead of the Orange to 1/2 game behind. Syracuse's off day does not come until the last game day of the season. With just the Wolfpack in their way on February 29th, Syracuse will be fighting for one of the top seeds in the ACC Tournament until the end. The Cards, on the other hand, are clinging on to the last double-bye in the standings. They're officially behind NC State, by virtue of the tiebreaker that they lost, and they still have to play league-leading Virginia Tech and Florida State at home before going on the road to Notre Dame to close the season. North Carolina has fallen to 7-5 in conference, and that loss is looking more and more frustrating for the Cards.

The only thing to be done, though, is to move on and play one game at a time. Louisville has Boston College next, and all you can do is play the games on your schedule. The Eagles are 3-10 in conference, holding the head-scratching win over Miami as well as victories over the only two teams below them in conference (Pitt: 1-11 and Wake: 0-12). Thursday's game will be on ACC Network Extra, and tip-off is at 7PM. 

Softball and Lacrosse to Come

Lacrosse and softball were in action yesterday, but the women's basketball game took most of the oxygen out of the room. Jared will have more on both of those games for you tomorrow. Look forward to his recaps of the comeback that wasn't in Boulder and the completion of the weekend sweep in Ft. Meyers. 

For the record, the Softball Cards shut ot FGCU 7-0 and Lacrosse lost a close one in Boulder to Colorado 16-15. Be sure to catch Jared's recaps in hisTesday article

Until next time, Go Cards!


  1. Agreed, we let Syracuse back in the game
    It doesn't excuse the ref who made the HORRIBLE call that actually decided the game.
    Don't wanna hear no bs about "you gotta make a play on the ball" when soooo many times teams foul players on purpose by grabbing them when they DON'T even have the ball but are maybe the worst free throw shooter on the floor.
    Makes it even worse because that kind of call probably won't be made again this season.

    1. I Agree 💯 that Officiating crew sucks,the Recreation League.

  2. It's hard to beat a team twice but with the help of the referees you can do it with ease.

    I truly believe the cards lost this game not because they didn't Hustle but because the referees dictated the outcome.

    I noticed something the games were Nyla scores the most points it seems like cards come up with a loss especially when it there's no other one scoring.

    On the bright side of things Nyla Harris is playing Super a double double.

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