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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cards win in overtime!



(Staff Columnist Jenny O'Bryan provides this excellent recap of Louisville WBB's exciting victory over the Scarlet Knights. )

Louisville Women’s Basketball opened Big East play at home Tuesday evening against a tough, physical Rutgers team who was 9-5, 0-1.  The game started rough, slow and ugly for the Cardinals.  Rutgers defense had the Cards stymied offensively, and once again unforced turnovers made it a painful first half of basketball to watch.

The Cards managed to throw the ball away, walk, double dribble, have a foot on an out of bounds line and get a 3 second violation to create just some of the first half turnovers.  I have to say, Coach Walz has not been joking when he has talked about how hard you have to work to turn the ball over as much as our beloved Cardinals. 

The Scarlet Knights opened the game with strong shooting, combined with the Cards inability to cover in the paint, giving the Scarlet Knights 20 of their first half 28 points in the paint.   They opened the game 8-11 from the field and took a commanding first half lead.   The Cards, on the other hand, could not buy a bucket and went a dismal 3-13 in the first 12 or so minutes of play.   It wasn’t until about 8 minutes left in the first half that the Cards started an offensive run that closed the gap and had Rutgers going into halftime with just a 28-24 lead. 

Mo Reid scored 8 first half points off the bench and Shoni added 5 to help the spark the Cards offensive run.   The Cardinals also lived at the line during the first half going a blistering 10-12 in the first half.  Now that is a Cardinal halftime stat to be proud of!  Rutgers did not get to the line at all during the first half with Louisville only committing two fouls the entire first half. 

Both myself and my immediate neighbors at the game feel like Bria Smith kept Louisville in the game the first half, and throughout really, with her intense defensive effort.  Her final stat line for the game included 7 steals.  This number seems low considering all the deflected balls and interrupted passes that Bria had a hand in.   Were it not for Bria’s defensive effort, which helped to fuel the Cards offense, as well as sidelining Rutgers and limiting shots during their possessions, Louisville would have found themselves in a much bigger hole going in to halftime.  

Rutgers came out of halftime and made their first four shots, seemingly starting the second half much like the first, very hot.  With Bria’s stellar defense throughout the game, the rest of the team’s defensive effort picked up as well.   A strong second half defense from the team, a consistent effort from a stable 5 on the court, was what the Cardinals needed to chip away at the lead. 

The line up for most of the second half for the Cardinals was Hammond, Reid and Slaughter, alongside Smith and S. Schimmel.   Smith spent a fair amount of the second half at the point allowing Schimmel mobility around the court thus creating more offensive opportunities for her.    These five provided the defensive effort, and just enough offensive shooting, to bring the Cardinals roaring back in the second half. 

With under a minute left in regulation and a score of 50-49 (Cardinal lead) Erica Wheeler of Rutgers shoots a long three, which was very well defended, to give Rutgers the two- point lead.   I immediately thought of the UK game, the difference being this shot was well defended.  History would not repeat itself at The YUM Center tonight though, as the Cardinals made their way down court and with what looked like a 3 point shot from Shoni (called a 2 pointer), the game is tied with 7 seconds to go, 52-52.  It was a big time shot from Shoni, and likely was one of the biggest of the night for the sharp-shooter.  Keeping with the theme of the night, Mo Reid stole the inbounds pass and proceeds to dribble around the court trying to burn the clock.  (From our vantage point, none of us could see how the Cardinals got the ball back after Shoni having made the shot to tie it.  It was also obvious that Mo must have thought Shoni’s shot was a 3, thus giving Louisville a 1 point lead, and her intention to run out the clock).  With the bench screaming to shoot, Mo feeds the ball to Slaughter and a whistle is blown and time expires. 

It was a stressful few minutes as the referees congregated and determined it was an inadvertent whistle, putting 2 seconds back on the clock and giving Louisville the opportunity to win it in regulation.  Hammond had the ball slapped away, time expired, and the Cardinals were headed to overtime with the score knotted up at 52.   My neighbors and I were exhausted in the stands by this time and could not imagine how the players and coaches must have felt.

Louisville opened over time play and dominated it, scoring the first two buckets on threes from Slaughter and Hammond.  The Cardinals would go on to shoot from the line 6 more times in overtime.  Slaughter was sent to the line twice, hitting 3-4, Mo twice going 2-4, Shoni once hitting both and Bria once hitting 1-2.  The Cards went on to win the game, in overtime, 66-57. 

What we liked:
-Defensive intensity- The great defensive effort throughout the game was led by Bria Smith, with strong contributions from the team.  Bria led the way defensively in this game and was by far my player of the game.  Her defensive effort kept Louisville in the game the first half, and eventually fueled the Cards victory!  Excellent work ladies!

-Free throw shooting- The Cards made it to the line for 30 shots!  The Cardinals went a sizzling 10-12 in the first half keeping them in the game.  Overall the Cards went 21-30 for a 70% percentage for the game.  Keep this stat rising, it wins games!

-Clean game- The Cards committed only 2 first half fouls and a total of 8 for the game.  Rutgers only got to the line for two shots the entire game, in the second half.  Excellent defense played cleanly will win games, and tonight is a great example of this. 

- Mo Reid!-  Having been battling the flu for what is now two games, Mo has played back-to-back games in excellent fashion.  While I do not wish illness upon her, she has responded and stepped up big when the team has needed her.  Congrats on two excellent games under poor health conditions, Mo!

What we did not like:
-Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.   Cards were able to get a handle on this, eventually.  The Cards gave it away a total of 17 times tonight.   17 turnovers to 8 assists will not normally win you games.  The Cards pulled it out tonight, but these two stats have to change.

-Defense in the paint-  With injuries, the most recent to Shawnta Dyer,  Mo Reid not at full recovery and Asia still not out on the court, our paint presence has to be able to step up.  It took most, if not all, of the first half to figure out how to stop the interior presence of Rutgers.  This needs to happen quicker.  The UCONNS and ND’s in the Big East will bury you in the first half if this is not figured out sooner.  The good news is it was figured out, just need to get to it quicker.  20 of Rutgers first half 28 points were scored in the paint.  It would have been a whole different game if this were figured out sooner.

The Cardinals got a big win in a home game that had to be won.  It was hard fought.  It was not always pretty, but a win none-the-less.  This team has been battling significant injuries for two seasons now.  There is a lot of heart and a lot of fight in this team.   I am happy for the win, but even more proud of this team for battling the adversity.  Keep at it Cards.

Safe travels as the team heads out to Providence, and then Connecticut.  To use Coach Walz’s language, maybe we can sneak a win in on the road.


  1. Much-needed tough win and a great effort from Bria Smith. I missed Reid's steal at the end of regulation - I felt like Shoni's shot was a 2-pointer (TV shows that her foot was clearly on the line) but thought I heard Sean Moth say "three". I glanced at the scoreboard then back at the court and saw Reid dribbling out the clock.

    Most impressive for me was that our last substitution occurred at 17:40. Shoni, Reid, Smith, Hammond and Slaughter played the last 22:40 and never showed any letup, especially on the defensive end.

    1. As someone who has been critical of Walz's substitution decisions in competitive games this season (A&M, the 3 losses, and Rutgers), I was heartened by his shortening of the bench in the second half, and I think it is highly significant going forward. Here are the implications (and some more free advice to Walz): 1. Walz is correct in playing Slaughter more and taking the minutes from Deines. Slaughter is earning the minutes. Besides Smith, she was top defender last night. Her length on the top of the 1-2-2 required Rutgers to put more air under their cross court passes, and that gave Smith the time needed to make steals. Slaughter is also the best offensive rebounder. (Can't expect her to get many defensive rebounds when she is defending out on top.) 2. Bria and Shoni trade off at the point INSTEAD OF Bria coming out of the game for Shelby and Jude. This is hugely important b/c - nothing personal - the drop-off when Shelby or Jude come in against competitive teams is enormous. Bria is the most athletic player on the team (with the possibly exception of Taylor); there is simply no comparison between Jude/Shelby v. Bria. 3. One of Shoni and Bria should be on the court at all times. Deines should be a substitute for Bria and Shoni when one of them needs a rest. 4. Denies should not be a substitute for Slaughter b/c that leaves the Cards too small. Instead, another one of the bigs should substitute for Slaughter. Jenny's comment about the need to improve defense in the paint is right on the money.
      --PDX Phil

    2. This is why everyone just needs to stay calm at the beginning of the season. They always have ups and downs and struggle early as Walz is figuring things out. If you've followed the team since Walz's arrival, this should be no surprise. He has found his core players.

    3. Deines goes hot and cold. She should be first off bench, if not a starter.

  2. So proud of our CARDS. The noise level was at times deafening, and very intense. The cards started slow but quickly heated up to match shot for shot with the Rutgers team. Was awesome seeing Shoni get some her swagger back, she needs to play the two guards and let Bria run the point. This allows everything to open up for our team. Very good to see our team hang with Rutgers, that were taller, leaner and faster. We proved we can run with the best of them, we just need to get started quicker. Mo, Shoni, Bria all had their heads in the game, poor Sara was getting bullied and pushed out of the paint but when she made her 3 Pt shot in OT the Arena went Nuts! The best game I have seen so far this year, so great for Cardinal sports!

    1. In defense of Sara, she has faced two of the best centers in the BIG EAST back-to-back. Katherine Harry and Monique Oliver are old-school post players who will let you know you've been in a game if you're matche up against them.

      Great win and go Cards!

  3. Huge win. Props to Mo, Sho and Bria.

    --Joe Hill--

  4. Cards were magnificent in overtime. Had me worried several times last night when the Rutgers lead got large, but the Cards never quit.


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