FRANTIC FOURTH FALLS CARDS WAY IN FOUR-POINT WIN
Louisville women's basketball returned to the KFC YUM! Center Sunday and battled a tough, physical Syracuse squad for 40 minutes before finally gaining their first ACC win of the season in front of 10084 fans.
This one was expected to be close, and was. Jazmine Jones stepped up huge for the 12-1 Cards with 24 points to give Louisville the win in their opening ACC tilt.
The 'Cuse led 20-19 after one, thanks to 7-13 shooting (53.8%) and hitting the three-ball (3-6). Syracuse forward Digna Strautmane nailed two from the deep and had eight points in a 10-minute session where the visitors grabbed a 8-2 opening lead, allowed Louisville to go on a 8-0 run to tie it at 10-10 and weathered a eight-point first quarter from Jazmine Jones.
|Coach Walz demonstrates the "self fist bump" to Dana|
Imagine a half where your top two scorers have no points. Evans and Shook were held scoreless in the first 20. Jaz was on fire, with 18 points on 7-9 shooting but Syracuse had a "three grab" lead in rebounds and this contest was far from settled.
Louisville went to work on gaining some separation in the third period.
A Shook three with 5:58 left in the quarter pushed Louisville out to a 43-35 lead and a Evans three gave the Cards their biggest advantage of the night at 48-37 with three minutes left in the quarter. Things were looking promising after 30 minutes and UofL held the 50-43 edge. A 19-13 quarter for the Cards, six different players had scored and Louisville had forced six turnovers in the first ten minutes of the second half. I was hoping for a dominating, pull-away-from-the-foe fourth quarter, but...
Syracuse refused to go away.
Back-to-back threes from the Orange's Teisha Hyman knotted the score up at 54-54 with 5:23 to play. After the media timeout, the Cards got a huge three from Evans and retook the lead at 57-54. Syracuse responded with two baskets and held their first lead since midway through the second quarter at 58-57.
Coach Walz spoke of chopping wood at his Friday presser. On Sunday, "Q" team was doing the chopping late and they were in a serious position of being able to yel "timber" by knocking down the #7 Cards.
2:37 remained and Louisville was without Jones, who was having a cramped muscle attended to on the sidelines.
JJ. re-entered a minute later and drew a foul off Gabrielle Cooper. Jones sank both attempts. After Balogun missed two free throw attempts with 31 second left, "E" wisely pursued the last free throw miss, got the rebound and connected with a two-pointer inside.
"E " would get two more free throws awarded with 12 seconds left and sank one for the 62-58 final score. A final Syracuse three missed the mark and the Cards had survived a Sunday afternoon thriller.
FREE THROWS -- The Cards went 14-20 from the free throw line (70%) and that's the standard we (at least) want to see. Jaz was automatic on them, making seven of eight. Five out of eight in the decisive fourth quarter, while Syracuse attempted zero in the final ten minutes. I'll give the lower case "f" as the letter assignment.
REBOUNDING -- A rare night where the Cards were actually out-rebounded 43-37. No one accumulated more than six (Diop and Dunham). The Cardinal centers were responsible for just six combined. A stronger boards effort (besides Dunham hard work) was needed and I'll assign no letter here.
EFFORT/EXECUTION -- Louisville committed just five turnovers and Coach Walz will take that any night. Three point-shooting still needed a boost (4 for 14) but a points-off- turnovers domination (16-3) and Jazz's spot-on efficiency from the floor (8 for 12) led to a Cardinal win and that deserves a capital "E".
DEFENSE -- It was a strong defensive effort for UofL when you consider the visitors scored just 58 points, shot just 35% and committed 17 turnovers. Syracuse star Kiara Lewis was held to 14 points on 5 for 14 shooting and the Orange took just 23 threes, about 12 less than their average. I'll gladly award a capital "D" because solid defense was a huge key in the win.
FINAL FRED TALLY: f-_-E-D
THEY SAID IT
Post-game Quentin Hillsman link: https://youtu.be/Z_XUyBANPCk
Post game Jeff Walz, Jazmine Jones and Bionca Dunham. LINK: https://youtu.be/kmVisGRrEF8
The third win in a row where the Cards have played to the level of the foe. Coach Walz warned us in the post game presser we can expect more of these nail-biters and, as long as they results in "W"s...I'll take my blood pressure pill and deal with it.
A game where the two "dependables" didn't launch until late and an afternoon where Jaz returned to early season form. Louisville struggled early, got it under control but then watched as Syracuse battled back into the contest.
It's a nerve-wrecking way to get wins, although exciting at times. If this is the way Louisville is going to continue to rack up "W"'s , I'm recommending Pepto-Bismol. Rolaids and stress relief massages be offered in the concession stands and the media room.
Bionca Dunham puts on her hard hat and does work every time out. Not much of it is flashy or eye-popping, but she's rapidly turning into this year's Sam Fuehring type of ballplayer. Elizabeth Balogun showed some flashes of brilliance Sunday like the ones that got her the ACC Freshman of the Year award last season. Her continued jelling into this team's style and mode of operation.
Syracuse just may be the best 6-6 team in the nation. There is no quit in them and, let's face it, the record books don't list emotional or psychological wins, but the Orange probably got both Sunday. They'll be fine in the ACC, no need to fret over them.
|Everybody Clap You Hands ! (clap clap clap clap clap...)|
Nothing spectacular or domineering counts just as much in the "W" column as a 30-point blowout. We'll accept these Cards we've been dealt and hope they continue to win games.
ACC. Always Competitve Conference
PHOTOS BY JARED ANDERSON