DEFENSE AND DOUBLE FIGURES DOES IN BEAVERS
Before you call the ASPCA or any animal rights advocacy groups, please realize that it wasn't the dam-building, big-tailed aquatic beavers that were beaten yesterday. Instead, it was a feisty bunch of basketball-Beavers from the PAC-12 that took their lumps Sunday in Rupp Arena from a Louisville women's basketball team 76-43 in front of 6268 (mostly) frenzied fans in the NCAA Women's basketball tournament, Lexington Regional Final game. I do believe there were more than that in there, honestly, but I won't dispute too loudly the counting procedures in Rupp Arena. (Wink, wink).
Defense did in the visitors coming in from Corvalis. Four Cardinals in double-figures dammed up any hopes of the Scott Rueck coached-club cavorting to Columbus. It was a beat-down, propelled by a 28-12 third quarter that erased any doubt of an upset and secured UofL WBB's spot in the Final Four. More on Scott Rueck later, let's get to the dismantling details.
It was a defensive battle early, both team managing only 22 points between them in a first quarter that Louisville won 14-8. If scoring is your thing, there wasn't much to get fired up about for you. The Cards matched OSU's points-in-the-paint at 4-4, did get three points off turnovers, equaled 2nd chance points with the Beavers at 3-3 and got two bench points (Kylee Shook). Oregon St. never got the lead but Cardinal fans were waiting and anticipating a Louisville explosion on points that didn't happen in the first two minutes.
You got the sense a run, a breakaway was right around the corner, but these pesky water-lovers wouldn't go away and kept hitting a shot or two to keep them in the fight.
The scoring did pick up in the second quarter and Asia Durr started to put her stamp on the contest. She would go on to be named MVP of the regional, and the Cards shot the ball a little better in the session before half-time (53.8%). Louisville was forcing turnovers (9) and capitalizing off them (8 points). Credit Durr with three threes in the first 20 minutes and the inside 1-2 punch of Sam and Myisha was holding their own, despite the Cards being out-rebounded 18-12 in the first hal.
OSU never got closer than seven in the second 10-minute session but the Cards weren't blowing past them, either. The 24 Beaver points sent me searching for Oregon State's lowest point total of the season (49 - against UCLA). The foe wasn't shooting the ball all that bad (9-21 42.9%), they just weren't getting many shots and turning it over way too often ( 9 in the first half). Marie Gulich was pacing the Pac 12 school with eight points and seven rebound and Taya Corosdale was an efficient 3-5 from three-point range. 31-24 and it was a Louisville edge -- but it was still anyone's game.
One had to wonder how would the second half go. Would we see another triumphant third-quarter blowout from the Louisville bunch (reminiscent of the Stanford game) or were we in for a Beaver battle?
I'm proud to report that whatever halftime adjustments or changes that Walz and the coaches discussed during the break with the squad succeeded superbly. A 17-6 start to the quarter, fueled by all five Cards on the floor changed the scoreboard to 48-30 with 3:47 remaining. UofL was making steals, getting layups, grabbing rebounds and the Cardinal contingent that turned Rupp red was roaring in approval. Jazmine Jones sprinting by beaten Beavers, a 12-0 points-off turnover third quarter and 28-12 advantage had turned this one into the track meet, Cardinal romp we were hoping for.
59-36 with ten minutes to play. The five UofL starters were feeling it. The sea of red was dancing in the aisles and Columbus was right on the horizon. My texts were blowing up and all was well in Cardinal Country.
Louisville continued the mastery in the final ten minutes, outscoring OSU 17-7. One by one, Walz began to replace the starters as the clock ticked toward completion. We got a "Syd" three, Sam three and when Gulich fouled out just 35 seconds into the final quarter, Louisville pushed the advantage to 25, then 30 and ended up with the 33-point win.
The floor was transferred into a Cardinal celebration. All taking turns trimming the net. Four Cardinals (Hines-Allen, Fuehring, Carter and Durr were named to the All-Regional team and Asia was your MVP of the two-game stretch. I spent some time on the floor with Jared Anderson, Paige Sherrard and Daryl Foust --watching the party, walking through the confetti and reveling in the moment. A proud fan, impressedjournalist and happy viewer.
Durr led all with 18 points, followed by Hines-Allen's 16, Sam Fuehring's 14 and Arica Carter's 10 points. A team win. Holding Oregon State to their lowest offensive output of the season. A 24-0 points-off-turnover edge. A nice post-game meal and confab with readers Joe and Deloris Hill. A few celebratory beverages and then a content and peaceful drive back to the "Ville" .
Two to go. Capturing Columbus won't be easy, Mississippi State the first roadblock. But, Louisville has peaked at the right time and can hopefully keep that momentum and conquer the capitol of Ohio with two more wins.
THE FRED REPORT
|It's a beautiful day in the Cardinal|
neighborhood...right, Fred "Mr" Rogers?
R - Rebounding. Louisville lost the rebounding battle 32-28 in a game where Jazzy led the way with six. Neither squad was prominent on the offensive boards but rebounding just didn't seem to matter today. The Cards did get 15 second chance points off seven offensive grabs...impressive, but I can't award a letter for this category.
E- Effort/execution. All the hustle stats went in favor of the red and black. 32-18 advantage with point-in-the-paint. 24-0 on points-off-turnovers (WOW!) 15-7 on second chance points and 8-0 on the fast break scoring. Gladly, a capital "E" here.
D- Defense. OSU managed 34.9% from the floor. They were held to their season low point total and committed 17 turnovers. The Cards had seven steals. I won't belabor this. A well-earned capital "D" for the effort without the ball.
FRED RECAP F-_-E-D
Four down, two to go. The Cardinal Caravan continues to Columbus. Full speed ahead!
The permanent athletic director job at the University of Louisville will be filled this morning at a 10:15 board meeting. It's virtually assured that Vince Tyra will be named to this position and I couldn't be happier. I've known Vince a very long time. There is no question whatsoever about his love for this university, athletic program and city.
He has performed exemplary as the interim A.D. and earned the right to be "the guy". The Jurich predecessor. The full-time A.D.
We extend our, a bit premature, congratulations to Vince and feel he is very capable and the right choice for the job.
MORE ON SCOTT RUECK
After I left the floor in Lexington, I went to the post-game interviews. Oregon State's presser had just started and I grabbed the first available seat. Turns out I was sitting next to OSU's head coach's wife Kerry, his children and parents.
I've always thought that doing post-game interviews after a loss have to be one of the hardest things in a coach (and players) job description. Especially the further you go in the post-season before being eliminated.
I listed to the words of Scott Rueck. I was very impressed. A coach who believes in his program, his players, their future and the school. His teams are 179-89 in his eight years in Corvalis. He's received a contract extension through 2026-27.
I like this guy. A lot. Consider me a Beaver fan. I will wish them the best next year in the PAC 12 and keep an eye on them. He handles things, even the toughest things, with a optimistic outlook and doesn't assign blame or belittle officiating, opponents or his own players. The man took adversity, acknowledged it but didn't dwell on it. He spoke of gratitude for what he had had the chance to experience and his hopes and dreams for the future.
I told his wife and his dad that I was a fan as he left the podium. I shook their hands. They were appreciative. I told his Dad he'd raised quite a fine son. That he'd built quite the program there. Dad's eyes brimmed a bit, he stopped to reflect on that and he thanked me. I asked him to tell his son that he has won over a Cardinal fan and that I would be watching and cheering for the Beavers as my favorite west coach team. He promised he would.
OSU will be back. They'll dance again. They will be a team to be feared out west. They've got the right guy blowing the whistle and coaching them up. You won this Cardinal over, sir.
Photos today from Jared Anderson, Paulie and Syd Zambrotta's Instagram account.