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Monday, December 3, 2012


-Thompson's second half lifts Cats past Cards 48-47

UK Freshman guard Janee Thompson scored all of her team high 13 points in the second half and her three with 8.4 seconds left in the game gave the Wildcats the come-back win over Louisville Sunday night before 15453 fans in the KFC YUM! Center. The Cards had not lost to UK on their home court since 1999.

Louisville led 37-24 with 14 minutes remaining but went on a cold streak, failing to score for almost five minutes as UK clawed their way back into the contest. It was 37-30 with 11:15 remaining and the Cats cut that to 41-38 with 5:35 left.

A buzzer-beating three by Sara Hammond gave Louisville a six point lead at the 4:38 mark, but the Cards wouldn't score a basket the rest of the way and 3-6 free throw shooting down the stretch had the Cards clinging to a 46-42 lead after a Sara Hammond free throw and 1:41 to go.

Shoni Schimmel fouled Thompson on a three-point attempt with 59 seconds to go and the freshman calmly sank all three to make it 46-45. Bria Smith drew a foul on a drive to the basket with .38 to go but converted only one of her two free throw attempts. That set up Thompson's three with 8.4 seconds left that gave the Cats their first lead since 9:15 remained in the first half. Smith drove the length of the court for Louisville and attempted the potential game winner driving down the lane with a second to go...but the shot was blocked by UK center Azia Bishop and Adia Mathies corralled the loose ball to secure the improbable UK victory.

Quite frankly, this one was ugly early. UK led 4-0 after the first four minutes...UofL turning the ball over five times and attempting just one shot. Smith finally got UofL on the board with a jumper...but UK went on another 4-0 run to lead 8-2 with twelve minutes left in the first half. The Cards chipped away at the advantage, though, and tied it at 8-8 after two Shoni Schimmel free throws at the 9:15 mark. Shoni's three 40 seconds later gave Louisville a lead that they eventually increased to five points at halftime...breaking a 18-18 tie in the final 1:40 of the half with a Hammond jumper and Shoni three with 38 seconds left. The Cards led at the half 23-18.

Schimmel had 13 points. She did not score in the second half. Nita Slaughter stepped up big with nine rebounds in the first half. She didn't grab another one the rest of the game and played only five minutes in the second half.

The Cards went on a 6-0 run to start the final twenty minutes and led 29-18 with 18:15 to go after a Smith jumper. A tip in from Megan Denies made it 35-21 Louisville with 15:08 to go and it looked like Louisville could do no wrong. They were aggressive, confident and getting the ball inside to Sara Hammond, who was converting.

Thompson entered the game with 16:47 to go for Kentucky and hit a three with 14:52 left. UK proceeded to go on a 11-6 run. With 8:42 left and the Cards leading 41-32, Adia Mathies fell to the floor clutching her leg after a turnover by Bria Smith and was replaced by Bria Goss. Two baskets by DeNesha Stallworth and a jumper by Stallworth cut it to a 41-38 Louisville lead and set up the frantic finish. Mathies did return with two minutes to go and finished the game.

Shoni led Louisville with 13 points. Sara Hammond had 12...10 of those in the second half. Bria Smith finished with seven, Monique Reid five (all in the second half), Shawnta Dyer four and Megan Deines, Jude Schimmel and Nita Slaughter two each. Shelby Harper played four minutes but did not score. Neither Sherrone Vails or Cortnee Walton got off the bench. 

Things We Liked

1. The Cards forced 23 UK turnovers in the game.
2. Louisville's defense held UK to 32.7% from the floor (18-55). 3-16 from three-point range.
3. The Cards had 11 steals.
4. Louisville hung in there in the rebounding also grabbing 34 compared to UK's 37.
5. The Cards got a great first half from Nita Slaughter. Why she played only five minutes in the second half is puzzling.

Things to work on

1. Turnovers. The Cards had 25. Shoni with 11 of them. Bria had six. That number needs to be cut in half.
2. Points off turnovers. Louisville had 10, UK 17. That's a hustle stat. UK won it.
3. 5-8 free throw shooting. The missed ones in crunch time were huge, in terms of being able to salt the game away.
4. Three-point shooting. The Cards were 4-15. Shoni had three of them (in ten attempts). The only other Cards to attempt them were Megan Deines (0-3), Nita Slaughter (0-1) and Hammond (1-1)

Final Summary

A heart-breaking loss in a game that Louisville controlled for most of the way. We understand why Coach Walz went to Smith and her quickness late in the game, clearing out and letting her create...but Louisville got off only four shots after Hammond's three at the 4:54 mark. Three misses and the block at the end of the game. Overly cautious basketball? Tough to say...but UK went on a 8-3 run from that point on and the Cards offense just seemed to evaporate. Give UK credit for their relentless defensive pressure but the Cards seemed slow in getting into the offensive sets at the end and could not score from the floor when they finally did take shots.

In the end, two players who had never played against Louisville or in the KFC YUM! Center....Thompson and Stallworth...scored UK's final seven points (and 16 of their final 18) and the Cats won a exciting (but disappointing for Cards fans) Battle of the Bluegrass.


About an hour before tip-off, Nell Fortner set up camp above the KFC YUM! main lobby with her latest "Nell on Wheels" stop. She was joined (while we were there) by LaChyna Robinson of ESPN and Fred Williams (head coach of the Atlanta Dream) and the three discussed key-points of the upcoming game.

Due to the heavy media presence at yesterday's game, the seating arrangements had Sonja and I split up for the first half of the game. I did get to spend the first half with Jared Stillman (J-Bone) who is now back in his hometown Nashville after graduation and working for ESPN Sports Radio 102.5 FM there. Always good to see the affable and personable J-Bone and he hasn't lost that rapier wit or knowledge of UofL hoops. Also had Lindsay McDonald (24/7 Sports) on my other side. Good writer, fun to talk to and very knowledgeable.

Sonja, on the other hand, was seated in Section 119 at a secondary press row and slated to sit next to Nell Fortner. After the first half, Nell hadn't arrived. We decided that we'd bring Sonja to the floor and take two vacant seats on press row (behind the basket) and sit together for the second half. I gave my seat to the Observer (Charlie Springer - UofL Card Game.) Sonja became no-show Danielle Donehew (Big East Poobah or something like that) for the second half.

We kept looking up in Sec. 119. Nell never showed. Guess those wheels were already in gear... or discovered the Troll Pub across the street.


  1. Judging from his post-game comments (I only saw what I read on line), Walz is, regretably, blaming three missed free throws down the stretch for the loss instead of his abysmal coaching, which lead allowed the offense to go stagnent with 15 minutes to go, which is why they blew a 14 point lead. No ball movement; no movement without the ball; just a guard dribbling in the back court or holding the ball 40 feet away from the basket, in the hope that when the shot clock is down to 10, the defender is going to disappear. Walz said they couldn't guard Smith one-on-one. Are you kidding? She was 1-4 first half; 2-7 second half. Small ball and a lack of commitment to playing inside out costs the Cards another big game.
    --PDX Phil

    1. I sent an email to the coach last night saying almos exactly that.

      It was not the lady cards free throw shooting that "bit us in the ass" tonight. It was your continued abysmal offensive coaching. You cannot continue to burn 15 seconds of the shot clock when you have run no offensive sets once the team crosses half court. You owe the young ladies on the team an apology for calling them out for poor free throw shooting and blaming them for losing the game. They played their hearts out for you tonight and do so every game, although I continue to marvel at that considering the way you treat them. Take some responsibility for the loss and try playing to win instead of playing not to lose.

    2. I am not speaking for Cardinal Couple here, but I have to say I agree with this sentiment. I am a big fan of Coach Walz, and I hope he coaches at Louisville until he retires, I would not trade him. But I think coaching decisions in this particular game, factored in to the loss. It does not solely fall on the kids, and I was so disappointed to hear that as the first thing out of the post game interview. Keep in mind, I wrote the article here at Cardinal Couple that talked about FT's having the potential to be a deciding factor. But in this game, in my humble opinion, there were multiple issues and slowing down the game was THE biggest issue in my estimation.

      While any number of things could have happened in the last few minutes to change the outcome of the game (hitting the FT's, not fouling on the 3 point shot, a hand in the face of the 8.4 second 3 pointer) had the offense not come to a grinding halt, natural play of the game could have changed the outcome.
      With the ball being held in the backcourt for 15-20 seconds there was no opportunity to run an offensive play. We know that FT shooting is not this teams strong suit, why depend on getting fouled driving to the bucket as a way to secure the victory? The best part of the game was during the time that the ball was being fed into Sara (Shawnta had one play as well) and we inflated the score. Slowing it down and getting away from that, combined with UK finally getting shots to fall, was when the lead was chipped away.
      I certainly believe the kids could have executed better down the stretch, but playing towards ones offensive weaknesses, rather than what is working in the game at hand, set the stage for the defeat. Just my opinion.

    3. Well, Jenny, while all of these comments are "just opinions," some of them, like yours, are more fact-based than others. For example, it is a fact that Louisville built its lead early in the second half by going to its bigs, whom KY could not stop. It is fact that Hammond went 3 for 3 in the first three minutes of the second half and then didn't get another shot until that desperation 3 with about 4:30 to go. It's a fact that in possession after possession, by design, the Cards did not start their offense until late in shot clock, and, in those possessions, the ball never went into a post player. It is fact - for those who say "We really mis Tia and Asia" - that the Cards built a 14 point lead without Tia and Asia. What changed was the way the Cards played after about the 15 minute mark, and that change is attributable to coaching. As to personnel moves, it is a fact that the Cards outrebounded KY 22-17 in the first half, with Slaughter getting 9 boards in 11 minutes. It is a fact that KY out rebounded the Cards 20-12 in the 2nd half, with Slaughter playing only 5 minutes. Those are the facts, uncomfortable as they may be for Walz, who is not showing an ability to learn from his mistakes.
      --PDX Phil

  2. I understand how you might blame this one on coaching, Phil...but Walz's strategy made sense in the aspect that he knew Smith had the quickness to drive, penetrate dish and/or shoot. The problem came with the execution at the end of these sequences.

    Just one of these three misse free throw attempts sens this into overtime.

    Also, Shoni's foul on Thompson with the shot clock running down and the ball having no chance of going in was huge. Give the UK freshman credit. She hit all three free throws.

    WE outlined in Sunday's column that free throws would be a key element in the game. Sadly, they were the deciding factor. Louisville plays again Saturday. If I were Coach, I'd have the team practicing these, in fatigued conditions, for hours at a time.

    Scoring when no one is guarding you. Have to be able to do that.


  3. Well, it was a disappointing loss to say the least, in what was a very winnable game. Make a couple more free throws in the last 2 minutes, don't foul a three point shooter (whose shot would have been way off anyway), don't give up a three with 8.4 seconds left, and the outcome could have been different.
    But, it was a very exciting atmosphere and game. Give UK credit for not folding when they were down double digits and the crowd going wild. Give both teams credit for what to me was outstanding defense for most of the game. Certainly showed why both team are ranked in the top ten.
    Not the end of the season for sure, they are many more games to be played, and let's hope the ladies use this as another learning experience going forward.

  4. This is the game where we missed Tia badly. Her passing is one of the best things about her game.

  5. This is where a big time back-up at PG hurt. Jude & Shelby play well against a lot of teams but struggle with pressure.

    We might not score 35 Vs. UConn.

    1. FWIW...Jude logged 16 minutes. Went 1-4 from the floor. Grabbed three boards, scored two points, had two steals, two fouls and two points. No assists. Shelby saw four minutes and grabbed a rebound.


    2. I actually thought Jude could have played more. She is slowly and surely becoming a solid back-up, even against tough opposition. She plays tough on defense, can get the ball up the floor, makes nice passes for assists, and uses her left better than anyone else on the team (who is right-handed!). Still wish she would show her 3 point range more, have a feeling that the more comfortable she gets, it will come out. Youtube her, and you'll see she has tremendous range (just like Shoni!) And even though I'm a huge Shelby fan, I'm also a realist, and this was not her type of game. She can, however, spell for 2-3 minutes at a time with no problem.

  6. This one hurts, no matter what Walz says. Up 14 and blow it. Team needs to find a leader, some heart and move Shoni to the "2" guard the rest of the year.

    Curtis Franklin

    1. Don't think "heart" is a problem. Being up 14 is nothing in college ball. Being down 14 is nothing also. And Walz said basically this one doesn't hurt any more or any less than any other loss. Of course every loss stings, but you learn and move on to the next game until tourney time.

  7. Hi, Just wanted to stop by and congratulate you guys on a hard fought game. A shame either team had to lose this one. Best of luck the rest of the way and we'll see you in Hartford on January 15th.

  8. Mo didn't seem to have any fire last night which is why Walz was furious with her. I can't blame him. We should have ran the offense we were using the first 5 minutes in the 2d half the entire game. UK hadn't proved they could stop it or Sara.

  9. Tough loss. I am always frustrated with Walz this time of year when he is trying to see who his go-to players will be. The good part is that he usually has it figured out about half way through the season. It is frustrating how he pulls out players after a bad play when they've had 3 or 4 good plays prior to the mistake. The one exception is Shoni. I think if he let some of the others play through their mistakes, like he does Shoni, the team could get more of an offensive rhythm going. But, what do I know...

  10. I think he misuses Nita a lot. She is great on defense, rebounding, and just over all energy boost to the team. She has cold shooting nights but she makes up for it with defense and rebounding.

    We need Tia back badly. Asia will help with rebounding A LOT. I still think this team could finish 3rd or 2nd in the BE with no more than 6 or 7 losses coming into the BE tournament. The game @Depaul to open up the BE schedule will tell a lot about our team. They embarrassed us on their floor last year.

  11. What I dont get about this game after witnessing it is this: What is wrong with setting a pick for your guards? They expend so much energy dribbling the dang ball and then get it across the line and stop deep in the corner. A three year old could have stopped out offense. Please let Jude run the offense and move Shoni to #2 spot. We have the power to run the score on anyone. Why do you (Walz) stop momentum and take our offense to a screaming halt? I dont understand why you would slow down the game on purpose why they #1 guard was out and #1 big girl on the bench? I know this game is not a big deal BUT we could have run away with it. Set picks for hard a sister out! Go Cards! I hope everyone learned a little something in this game. Are u listening MO???


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