16-4 RUN TOPPLES ROCKY TOP
|Mariya prepares to inbounds|
A crowd of 5698 went ballistic over the Cards scoring stretch...that featured eight points from Mariya Moore and seven from Asia Durr. Trailing 47-46 after thirty minutes...the Cards Sydney Zambrotta started the fourth by forcing UT's Jordan Reynolds into a turnover from a steal and getting a driving layup by Moore. 45 seconds later, Moore knocked down a three and "we got a little Moore" when Myisha Hines-Allen found Moore on the wing and the junior drilled another trifecta to make the Cardinal lead 54-47 at the 7:23 mark.
Durr took the reins next. Her free throw put Louisville put 55-49. She followed with two straight successful jumpers to build the advantage to 59-51. After a Hines-Allen free throw, Durr struck again with a layup in the paint off a nice feed from Moore and head Tennessee coach Holly Warlick called a time-out to talk it over...almost kicking the basketball before a player restrained her...Louisville leading 62-51 and 4:07 on the clock. Are the Vols looking for a place-kicker?
|DeShields being attended to|
UT would fight back several times over the waning minutes...cutting the lead to 67-62 after a Jamie Nared hoop and free throw at the 1:38...but the Cards went on a game-closing 8-2 run...featuring four Durr free throws, a Briahanna Jackson layup and a triumphant, breakaway Hines-Allen layup after a block and mad dash down the court while grinning broadly with 10 seconds left.
To be sure...before the fourth, this was anyone's ball game.
The Cards began well, racing out to a 15-9 lead after Moore's first of five threes at the 4:37 mark in the first. UT would battle back to tie it at 19-19 and lead 21-20 after a Diamond DeShields jumper before Jackson's layup with four seconds gave the Cards the one-point margin after one.
The Cards would rally from a 27-26 Tennessee lead in the second and grab a 33-27 edge after a Sam Fuehring jumper with 3:26 until half. UT had been held scoreless for 4:52 before Nared nailed a couple of free throws...twice in a row to climb back within two before Fuehring closed out the first half scoring with a bucket 17 seconds before halftime. The Cards took a 35-31 lead to the locker-room...but few in the crowd were comfortable with it after a very competitive and exciting first half.
Free throws were a matter of debate. The Cards took two in the first half and made one. The Vols were 7-14 from the charity stripe
Points in the paint were going Louisville's way...18-12 but Nared was waging a one-women war on Louisville with 15 points. The Cards had held Mercedes Russell to just seven points and DeShields had been limited to six...but one wondered if those two would explode in the final twenty minutes.
|Mariya awaits the pass|
The Cards 29-17 scoring edge in the fourth was augmented by 64.3% shooting for the ten minutes and a defensive effort that limited the SEC foe to 3-18 final period marksmanship for a abysmal 16.7%. Defense (and scoring more points than the opponent) wins games and the Cards fourth quarter containment of Russell (0-2) and the rest of the UT players was a big key in getting the win.
Russell, a 6'6" red-shirt junior, was the focus of an intense recruiting effort during her senior year in high school between UofL and Tennessee. The Vols won the commitment battle but Louisville won the war Monday evening. Jordan Reynolds, Kortney Dunbar and Alexa Middleton...all Vol contributors...were subjects of various levels of Cardinal recruiting as well. Instead, Louisville ended up with Moore, Hines-Allen, Carter and eventually Jackson. Another obvious win for the red and black.
A great game and another exciting moment right after it ended when I got to visit briefly with daily reader and comments maestro Mike D. and old college fraternity buddy and site regular Tom Roma. Good to see both of them and it's absolutely wonderful and I'm very happy that they came out to support their Cards!
HOW DID FRED DO?
|Cards still dancin' like Fred Astaire.|
Rebounding -- UT edged Louisville out with a 43-41 effort. In the fourth quarter the Cards did have a 13-10 edge...so we can't be too critical here. Hines -Allen grabbed 13...to give her a double-double with her 14 points...and Moore controlled nine (just missing a double-double with 19 points). I'll deem a small case "r" here...tracking down those missed UT shots in the fourth a very big part of the reason.
Effort/Execution -- We talked about the "big three" needing to do productive work in Monday's column and they did...with 56 points, 28 rebounds and just three turnovers. Shook was essential and a contributor in her 26 minutes and Fuehring and Jackson gave a lot of heart and hustle to the cause. This multi-faceted effort led to a Louisville win and the execution was crisp and precise when it needed to be. A capital "E" was earned.
Defense -- It may be the thing I'm most proud of from the Cards tonight. taking on a very talented UT squad, holding them to 33.3% shooting, creating 13 turnovers and not letting DeShields or Nunn take over. Yes, Nared was outstanding in defeat and caused a lot of headaches...but when it counted, Louisville slammed the door on the Vols offense at the end and that most absolutely and definitely earns them the capital "D".
FINAL FRED COUNT: -_r-E-D
|Cheerleaders prepare to...well...cheer!|
Give a lot of credit to the Vols for making this a tight affair for thirty minutes. They found their strengths early on and utilized them to effective measures. The portion of the game that usually decides who will get the "W" and "L", though...the final period...belonged to Louisville.
Durr, who has been good-as-advertised the vast majority of the season hit only one three all night but found other ways to score and contribute and her 23 points kind of snuck up on me. Hines-Allen, the warrior...wearing her heart on her sleeve...was "MyZilla" again Monday night. She wanted to keep dancing in March and got that accomplished. Oh, Mariya! What a great time to execute three-point perfection. I'd have to give her player-of-the-game for that and the overall execution, her 19 points and lighting the fuse that blew up the Volunteer firecracker.
|We think she chose correctly. Go Dana!|
Two down, four to go....in the March Madness show.
The decision now...do I take this old
body to Oklahoma...11 hours away or not?
Best exchange of the post-game presser. Mariya Moore explaining her leg cramps:
Mariya: "Our nutritionist, our trainer are always on me to drink more often."
Walz: "That's water. She means water. Just want to make sure we clarify that. "
THEY SAID IT:
WALZ AND PLAYERS AFTER TENNESSEE WIN
CARDINAL COUPLE BRACKET CHALLENGE
We have a Sweet Sixteen sighting! Congrats to UConn, UCLA, Maryland, Oregon, Baylor, LOUISVILLE, Washington, Mississippi St., Notre Dame, Ohio St., Texas, Stanford, South Carolina, Quinnipiac, Florida St., and Oregon St. on their advancement.
(4) #1 seeds, (3) #2 seeds, (4) #3 seeds, (2) #4 seeds, (1) #5 seed (1) #10 seed and (1) #12 seed move along. Survive and advance.
Four Pac 12 still alive. Three from the ACC and the SEC. Two from the Big 10 and Big 12, one AAC and one MAAC school as well.
THE LEADERBOARD --THE TOP 12
43-5 Kenny S., Cliff
42-6 The Deb Factor, Paulie
41-7 Curtis Franklin, Charlie Mc
40-8 Joe Hill, K. Starks, Perry S.
39-9 Doug A, Jenny, Beth
15 games to go! Out of the top 12, seven have UConn as the champ. Two have Notre Dame and Baylor, Louisville and Stanford are the champ picks from one entry each.
Good luck all! If you don't see your name above and what to see how you're doing...feel free to ask in the comments section or e-mail Sonja at: