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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cards rally, hold on against stubborn Bulls 63-57



-Vails, Schimmel and Harper lead Cards rally to defeat Bulls

-By the numbers...

-Vote for your favorite coach

-BIG EAST recap and preview

Louisville got a huge lift from Sheronne Vails at the foul line this evening and timely off the bench play from Shelby Harper to overcome a eight point USF lead in the second half and win 63-57. Shoni Schimmel had 16 points for the Cards and Vails sank 10 out of 11 free throws and finished with 14 points to send the Lady Cards to 14-2 and 3-1 in BIG EAST play.

STARTERS: Vails, Burke, Smith, Shoni and Dyer

Lady Cards warm up for the game...Asia doing it headless !
Nice picture, Paul...
The Bulls looked like they'd be a tough match up with their guard play during pre-game analysis and this proved true as they roared out to a 5-0 lead in front of 8000 at the KFC YUM! Center - behind the shooting of Jasmine Wynne. Louisville finally got on the scoreboard when Shoni nailed a three at the 17:36 was the start of a 9-0 run that gave the Cards a five point lead when Asia Taylor hit a layup with 15:01 left in the first half. USF rallied back behind some incredible long range shooting by Inga Orekhova, who nailed a couple of threes to knot it at 13-13 at the 12:31 mark.

Dee Kanter and her crew didn't do that bad of a job...
Louisville 12 fouls...USF 23.
Louisville went on a 5-0 run to grab a 18-13 advantage after a Becky Burke three and another Taylor layup and kept the five point lead at 22-17 after Vails hit two free throws with 8:48 to go. 

It was the last scoring the Lady Cards would do for awhile, though...USF responded with a 11-0 run over the next five minutes - getting three free throws from Orekhova, a layup from her and Kaneisha Saunders, layup from Wynne and a jumper from Saunders to grab a 28-22 edge with 4:21 left. Walz needed offense but it didn't develop until the Cards got two straight jumpers out of Cierra Warren in the final minute to cut a eight point Bulls lead to four...making it 33-29 at the half. It could have been two points seperating the squads, but Bria Smith missed a layup after a steal as the clock ran down.

The USF guards were killing the Lady Cards...tallying 29 of their first half points...the 6'3" Orekhova with 11 points and Wynne and Saunders with nine each. Louisville's scoring was spread out among five players...Vails and Burke with seven each, Warren with six, Shoni adding five and Taylor totaling four. Walz played everyone but Harper in the first half...Bria Smith was 0-6 from the floor, the Cards were 10-26 for 38.5% and were narrowly leading the rebounding battle 22-21.

Without Louisville's 7-8 free throw production, the gap could have been larger....Walz needed to find a way to slow down the hot guard trio for USF and create some turnovers...USF had but four in the first 20 minutes.

The team battled pretty evenly for the first three minutes of the second half. Shoni got the crowd fired up when she swished home a three to get Louisville within two at 39-37 with 16:57 to go. USF went on a 6-0 run after that, though...getting scores from (who else?) Wynne and Saunders to hold a 45-37 edge with 13:03 on the clock. The crowd was getting nervous and edgy, USF's guards showed no inclination to slow down and Louisville was on the ropes. A Shoni jumper cut it to six but USF still led 47-39 when Wynne took a fast break layup to the hoop at the 10:17 mark.

With Shelby Harper in the game, part of a four guard Lady Cards lineup, things began to change for the better. Warren connected inside, Smith knocked down a jumper and hit the plus one.  Warren cashed in again from the paint, rolling one in after a hard foul from USF's Akila McDonald. She had to leave the game, but Sherrone Vails sank the free throw and it was tied at the 8:53 mark. Shelby Harper put the Cards ahead with a driving lane layup 30 seconds later, Shoni electrified the crowd with a deep three and Vails connected on a pair of charity tosses. The Cards had rolled off a 15-0 run and led 54-47. USF started fouling the Cards and three free throws from Harper and one from Burke had the Lady Cards enjoying a 58-49 advantage with 3:50 left.

USF play by play announcer
takes a photo of the rowdy
crowd at the YUM...Fun guy
to talk to!
Game over? Not hardly. Wynne responded with a three and Caitlin Rowe connected in the paint to cut the Cards lead to 58-54 with 1:54 left. Smith dropped in two free throws to put Louisville back up by six, but Saunders found the hoop and added a free throw to pull USF back to within three at 60-57 with 37 seconds left. USF had a chance to climb within one or tie but Saunders missed a jumper and Orekhova was short with a three attempt with 22 seconds remaining. USF had no choice but to foul...and two Vails free throws and one from Harper provided the final 63-57 Lady Cards win. 

It wasn't pretty...but thanks to a gutty effort from Shelby Harper and Sherrone Vails at the end, Louisville used the 13 for 19 free throw edge (USF went 1-5 in the second half) to secure the win and survive against a gritty, never-say-die group of inspired Lady Bulls. Louisville used a four guard lineup most of the final ten minutes to counteract the quickness of the USF squad and it worked tonight. Wouldn't recommend it against DePaul, Rutgers, UConn or Georgetown...but it got UofL a "W" tonight...and Walz showed us again this evening why he's one of the best in college basketball. The substitution strategies worked well tonight, the combinations on the court clicked most of the time. Walz will kid you that he hasn't scored a point in five years here...but his coaching tonight was just as responsible for the win as any of the player's scores or efforts tonight.

Shoni's 16 led the Cards. Vails finished with 14 (and 10-11 from the line) and Warren closed out the double figure scorers with 10. Burke had eight (on 1-9 three point shooting) and Harper added six points (and six rebounds!) in 11 minutes. Smith contributed five points on 1-9 shooting, Taylor had four points and six boards in 13 minutes.

Jude, Dyer, Slaughter and Hammond played but did not score.

For USF, Wynne finished with 20, Saunders 18 and Orekhova 11 (all in the first half). Burke and the Lady Cards did the job on the Russian rifle in the second half...she was 0-2 from the field.


-Harpin' on Harper! The blonde spark plug came in and gave the Lady Cards her best 10 minutes of basketball this season. She also got the crowd back into the game and received a standing ovation when she went to the line with six seconds left in the game. Well done, Shelby! Short people rock!

-Vails assails the paint. Love the aggressiveness and pluck out of the sophomore tonight. 14 points, 8 boards, 4 blocks and just 1 turnover in 26 strong minutes.

-Shoni magic. Her 4 for 9 three point shooting a step in the right direction...we're continually amazed on just how far out she hits these from...


-Consistency. Louisville made two great runs in this game, especially the 15-0 one in the second half...but defensive lapses and errors almost let USF back in it with less than a minute to go. Seal the deal, shut the door and turn out the light on them, ladies!

-Zero fast break points. The Cards had a couple of opportunities but missed layups. A tough one was at the end of the first half when Bria missed a "gimmie" as time ran out...could have made it a two point halftime game.

Louisville heads to Rutgers next. Tough opponent, tough place for a visiting team to play and a top 20 matchup. For tonight, though...a brief time to enjoy a...well...ugly but functional win over an opponent that got just eight points out of their post players.


-Louisville shot 37.3% (19-51) against the Bulls and went 5-18 from the deep. The Cards hit 20-27 free throws. (74.1%). USF took an incredible 18 more shots than Louisville (24-69) for 34.8%, was the same from trifecta land as the Cards and went 4-10 from the foul line. Take out Smith's 1-9 efforts and Becky's 1-9 3-point woes and the Cards shooting looks much better than it actually was. Warren was 5-6, Shoni 5-11 and Taylor 2-4.

-Louisville won the rebounding battle 44-40. Vails led UofL with eight, Warren had seven and Harper and Taylor six each. The Cards had 10 assists (Shoni 3) and eight blocks (Vails with four).

-Louisville had 19 turnovers (Shoni four) compared to just 14 USF miscues. The Cards forced six steals (Smith two) and USF had 12 robberies.

-Points in the paint went to USF 24-20. Saunders had 18 of these for USF, Warren 10 for the Lady Cards. Points off turnovers was in USF's column with 15, compared to UofL's 12. Both teams had 11 second chance points.

-Burke had 38 court minutes tonight, Shoni 35, Smith 34, Vails 26, Jude and Warren 14 each, Taylor 13, Harper 11, Dyer 8, Hammond 6 and Slaughter 1. The freshmen played 54 minutes out of the 200.

-Warrne was the only Cardinal to foul out, Harper had three and four Cardinals were whistled for one each. USF had four players with four infractions each (Johnson, Conner, Wynne and Rowe).


St. John's blew out to an early lead and put away Syracuse 70-58 in the battle of New York State last night. Four Red Storm hit for double figures. WE'RE 8-0 this week in predictions. No BIG EAST games on tap until Saturday...when six games will feature 12 BIG EAST schools in action. The lineup:

West Virginia at Providence
Louisville at Rutgers
UConn goes to Villanova
Notre Dame visits Cincinnati
USF travels to Seton Hall
Pittsburgh heads to DePaul

Sunday action:

Syracuse hits the nation's capitol to face Georgetown
Marquette and St. John in Madison Square Arena.


UofL Sports website is having a contest to select the best coach for 2011. Vote for your favorite there. Some tough candidates in Charlie Strong, Arthur the Swim Coach, Karen Ferguson Dayes and Ron Mann...but we voted for Walz. A deep run in the NCAA Tournament last year, having to deal with losing two of his best players for this year but still at 16-3 and a fear that if we didn't, we'd be banned from getting halftime cookies in the Media room.

You can also get the players and coaches comments at the site from last night. Due to some dummy forgetting to take the voice recorder off of "pause" last night, all of Paul's brilliant and thought-provoking questions were unrecorded last night for CARDINAL COUPLE. Give a chimp a toy, and see what happens?


  1. Shelby! Shelby! Shelby! Man, I just love this girl! Not your superstar player, but special in her own way. Think I said it last year somewhere that inch for inch one of the best, if not THE BEST, rebounder on the team! Loved the defensive spark she provided also, thought she came in and kept that little point guard in check. She has her role on this team!
    Think this was one of the best games the Cards have played so far this year, rebounding and defensively wise. Thought Becky did a tremendous job keeping the ball out of the "Russian Revolver's" hand, so much for Benny the Bulls prediction yesterday. But I do see what he was talking about, the girl is long and can shoot! They had a lot of good shooters, can't believe their record is what it is. Thought the Cards interior people, Vails, Warren, and Taylor in particular, played better. Who would have thought that with Becky and Bria both having off nights offensively the Cards can still win a tough game. Thought the crowd gave them a lift when they needed it also. Kind of loud in there at times! All in all a good game and proud of the ladies!
    GO CARDS!!!

    1. Orekhova (the Rocket) has only played two games at USF because of transfer rules. The USF play-by-play guy told me she was on Walz's radar when she was in high school in the Ukraine. Imagine here out there with Burke and Schimmel. USF should handle Seton Hall pretty easily on Saturday and don't be surprised if they pull a few upsets down the road. Maybe not against Rutgers or DePaul, who they play after Seton Hall...but WE can see them winning when Villanova, Pittsburgh and Providence come to town.

      USF is playing in their recreation center this year because of renovations to the Sun Dome...their regular home. The play-by-play guy told me it holds "400...if everyone holds their breath..." LOL



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