Walton's return marred by lackluster Louisville effort
A season low shooting percentage (35%). A season low point total (65). 12-22 free throw shooting and countless missed opportunities under the basket. One might even imagine the schedule got switched and the Cal game was last night...but Louisville turned in a very inconsistent effort in front of 2000 fans in Phoenix against Grand Canyon University...winning 65-51.
Shoni Schimmel was in attendance. I kept waiting for Walz to throw her a jersey and have her report to the scorers' table.
Consider that the Cards had a 59-35 lead with seven minutes remaining...after two Mariya Moore free throws. A nice 11-0 Cardinal run over a four minute stretch that seemingly appeared to be the start to a blowout in the making.
But the Cards weren't capable of loading up the sleigh and delivering the rest of the gifts.
Louisville managed just one basket (a Jude Schimmel three) and three free throws the rest of the way...seeing a 24 point lead evaporate to 11 with 95 seconds remaining in the game.
Jeff Walz didn't come out for the post-game recap with Matt Andrews on Cards Radio. Probably a lot of soul searching and dialogue going on in that visitors locker room.
Or... he mirrored his team's performance of not finding a way to score underneath the hoop and couldn't find his way to press row.
It is the Christmas season. Mr. Grinch (who stole Christmas) probably would have described tonight's performance as "stink, stank, stunk."
To paraphrase the Christmas song parody...the Cardinals (not Grandma) got ran over by some antelopes (not reindeer) to end each half.
|GCU head coach Trent May|
Louisville never trailed...jumping out to a 14-7 lead after five minutes of action. The Cards went up by 12 after Moore's first trifecta to lead 25-13 with 7:20 left in the first half. Moore canned another three to make it 28-16 at the 5:38 mark. Any hopes of a first half blow out ended, though, when the Antelopes outscored the Cards 8-4 the rest of the way.
32-24 at the intermission. Moore had 10 to lead all scorers and Louisville held a 20-4 edge with points in the paint.
The Cards did steadily build on the lead as the second half
progressed. Deines' three made it 37-24 Louisville three and a half minutes into action. Moore's final three made it 53-35 with 8:58 to go. The 'Lopes outscored Louisville 16-12 the rest of the way.
First road trip across the Mississippi for the Cards this season. A fired up, resilient opponent that actually shot worse than Louisville (30%) but kept scrapping and got a couple of late threes from GCU's Australian guard Jess Gajewski to make it interesting.
And...after their tenth win of the year... a Cardinal team that has 63 hours to figure out why a 3-7 team held them to less points and a lower shooting percentage than Kentucky did...and develop a plan to not let it happen again against a significantly talented bunch of Bears in Berkeley.
Regular CARDINAL COUPLE reader, contributor, Arizona resident and buddy Greg made the trip to the contest. His observations below:
Not much to add to the ESPN write up which I thought was pretty good. Decided not to bother you with any texts during the game and interrupt your viewing. Just a few quick bullets:
- GCU looked good given their personnel. Scrappy and certainly not intimidated by the Cards. Quite well coached. They've got nothing to be embarrassed about that's for sure.
- They have a really nice facility, state of the art video & graphics and they put on a good show. They're wanting to be serious players in the roundball world and they're doing all of the right stuff to make that happen.
- This was a good game for their women's program. Respectable showing against a national power. Lots of young girl ballers in attendance.
- Our defense looked great at times but then seemed to periodically clear out a side and let them go straight to the basket. Walz almost lost his mind a couple times.
- We continue to struggle with missed bunnies and free throws were painful again at 55%.
- I like the black uniforms better than the red but I imagine the red is near and dear to the traditional Card fans.
- Not too surprising we didn't have a stellar outing. Between Cortnee's homecoming and Jeep tours probably the focus isn't what it could have been.
- Hopefully we'll reload and be ready to rock Cal in a few days.
- Tons of Cortnee and Jude love & support. The arena holds 5000 and although attendance wasn't reported on ESPN I'm guessing there had to be 2000 to 2500 there. That's something like 5 or 6 times their normal home attendance.
- Most of one side of the arena seemed to be filled with Card fans. We overheard some of the GCU fans complaining about how their usual seats were occupied with U of L fans by the time they rolled in. Too Funny.
- The Native American fans were there in big numbers and they Love, Love, Love Jude. Cool Folks. They truly appreciate good basketball and are not afraid to show it.
It was a fun night. I talked Gina into coming with me and after fifteen minutes or so I was reminded of her mosquito-like attention span. She thought Jude was cute also liked the black uniforms, the videos and dancers. After fifteen minutes of actually watching the game she slipped into Candy Crush mode on her iPhone so she and the 8 year old GCU fan sitting in front of us were both in heaven for the remainder of the night. I only lost her once going to the parking garage after the game when she spotted a Native American fan wearing some earrings she liked and had to stop and exchange phone numbers so she didn't miss a jewelry buying opportunity. I was getting ready to put out an APB but security found her dazed and confused with her jewelry friend and pointed her my way. Just to be clear this is pretty much a normal day with Gina.