BALANCED SCORING, DOMINANT DEFENSE DO IN NOTRE DAME 86-54
Here's a flash for you.
Notre Dame doesn't have a very good women's basketball team this year.
Shocked at this obvious understatement? Let us present the case for you, then. The Cards held the Irish to 29.5% shooting last night in South Bend. Louisville had four in double figure scoring, three others knocking on that double digit door and rested the starters in the fourth quarter. A a 86-54 thumping of Muffet's student-athletes last night in the Purcell Pavilion, in front of 7719 patrons.
It wasn't that close.
The Cards WBB squad wasted no time in securing their 21st win of the season. The scoreboard read 9-0 visitors after three minutes. Dana Evans already had five points and the TV announcers were already making excuses for the woefully under talented home team. Evans would total 11 points in a blitzkrieg first ten minutes that gave UofL a 27-11 lead. The homecoming for Dana (she's from Gary, IN) was off to a fine beginning.
Despite six turnovers, too, by the Cards. Mostly on run-out fast breaks designed to score even more points. The Cards ended the quarter on a 13-3 run and shot 62.5% from the floor. To prove the balance statement, Bionca Dunham already had six of her nine points and the Irish did not score in the final 2:40 of the first quarter.
If there was any lapse in the Cards domination, it occurred in the first five minutes of the second quarter. ND managed to find Sam Brunelle for seven points and the Irish used a 12-6 run to cut the Cardinal lead to 33-23.
The Cards responded with a "enough of this nonsense" reply, though, and took off on a 7-0 run and when the second quarter media timeout at the 4:22 mark, the Cards had pushed the advantage back out to 17 at 40-23. Louisville would continue to outplay Notre Dame in the remainder of the half, their 10-6 run was fueled by four points each from Jazmine Jones and Elizabeth Balogun. A 50-25 lead with 1:21 left in the half was slightly dented by two ND scores, which equaled the number of blocks Kylee Shook had in those final 120 second and the Cards went to the locker room in possession of a 50-29 lead.
Louisville put up 21-33 (63%) shooting numbers, had 15 assists on those made buckets and "Jonesie" had all eight of her points in a second quarter that the Cards won 23-18. Evans led all scorers with 14 points and Shook (9 pts.) and Balogun ( 9 pts.) weren't far behind.
The only question remaining was whether the Cards could hit the 100-pt. mark for the game.
Fortunately, for Notre Dame, the beating subsided somewhat in the final twenty minutes.
Kasa, Ya-Ya and Liz were getting time on the court, the Cards started the third quarter on a 21-8 run over the first six minutes and the score stood at 65-37, after a Diop three, at the third quarter media timeout.
Katlyn Gilbert and Brunelle were trying to keep it interesting on the other side of the court. They totaled all of Notre Dame's 14 points in the third quarter, but Louisville countered with 24 points, seven different Cards scoring. A Robinson free throw with 35 secconds left set the end-of-third-quarter score at 74-43 Cards. All Louisville's starters were watching from the bench by now and it would be up to Jess Laemmle, Lindsey Duvall, Kasa, Liz Dixon and Ya-Ya to turn off the lights and run a dust mop over the floor.
Somehow, in the fourth quarter, Lindsey Duvall magically became Molly Lockhart -- thanks to the transformation produced and imagined by the worst play-by-play guy in women's college basketball -- Adam Amin.
It must have been a precipitant for the former Miss Kentucky GBB to do great things with the double identity, she had five points in the fourth quarter, was involved in all of the Cardinal scoring in the first six minutes with an assist as well and the Cards reserves were holding on to the 31-point lead. How many she actually totalled while posing as Molly, we're not sure.
Molly wasn't even in South Bend, still feeling the effects of the flu and back in Louisville. Network announcers....right?
Look, I realize the Cards can't get Debbie Antonelli and Pam Ward for each broadcast -- I get it -- there are other great games to cover. Just send "Adam" to call lawn bowing, pickle ball or ants crawling across the sidewalk, not UofL WBB. I can hope, right?
The pace had slowed down in the fourth period. No points for either squad in the first two minutes. A Dixon free throw, Jess jumper and bucket by Ya-Ya with 2:43 to go closed out the UofL point-production. The Irish weren't exactly "lighting it up", though...after a Brunelle three, Notre Dame went four and a half minutes without a basket, missing nine straight shots.
While Walz made sure that all ten he had eligible for the game saw at least double-digit minutes, Miss Muffet didn't wave the white flag and empty her bench until just 59 seconds showed on the clock. Reserve Nicole Benz rattled in a three for the Irish with 39 second to play and the Cards walked off the court with a 86-54 win.
For those who wondered, Walz is still being careful with Norika Konno after her knee procedure, and did not play her. If she's up to it, she might see action Sunday against the USA National squad.
A good-as-expected effort from the Cards starters, none of them saw more than 26 minutes. Ya-Ya Diop saw 30 minutes and stuffed the stat sheet with a nine points, nine rebounds, seven assists, four rebounds and three blocked shots.
Kylee added six blocks to go with her 12 points and six rebounds....in just 22 minutes. Dana ended up with a team-leading 17 points, just one turnover and six assists.
It was a one-sided contest, and the side representing Derby City was that side.
THE FRED REPORT
|Would the late, great Freddy Mercury have changed the song|
line to "We are the champions, in South Bend' after last night?
REBOUNDING -- Louisville took a 45-32 advantage on the boards and every Card but Jess was responsible for at least one. The stats folks at South Bend must have been pre-occupied, a total of eight Irish rebounds were credited to "other". I have no problem in awarding a CAPITAL "R" for UofL's domination on the boards.
EFFICIENCY/EXECUTION -- Louisville scored 34 points-in-the-paint, had 25 assists on 34 baskets and committed 16 turnovers, with six of them coming in the first quarter. The Cards got 24 bench points and 18 points off turnovers. 54% from the floor shooting for the game, after that sizzling first half. Team execution and efficiency was quite outstanding and I can easily assign a CAPITAL "E" in this category.
DEFENSE -- A stoppage of Irish production, indeed. ND shot 29.5%, the Cards forced 16 turnovers and Notre Dame managed just seven second chance points. Kylee's six block were a big part of the 10 total the Cards blocked. Besides Gilbert and Brunelle, the Irish couldn't accomplish much when they had the orb. The Cards had 10 steals and the Irish ended up with just 54 points. Let's close out the FRED report with a CAPITAL "D" for the Louisville defensive effort.
FINAL FRED TALLY: _-R-E-D
THEY SAID IT:
MUFFET MCGRAW POST GAME
KYLEE AND DANA POST GAME
JEFF WALZ POST GAME
One game at a time, one win at a time and check off another "W" on the Walz refrigerator . A fun one to watch, heightened even more by McGraw's sarcastic and irrelevant comments after the beat-down. She thinks Louisville deserves to be in the top 10. (Sit right there and don't move while I alert as many media outlets as I can)
No one likes a soggy sandwich. Muffet is dining on them nightly now and seeing how the other half of women's college basketball lives.
Spare me any "poor Muffet" dialogue. The "boomerang" has died in mid-flight. Losers out of the last six of her seven, she still talks of winning the ACC Tournament.
Some early turnovers got Walz to call a timeout to send a wake-up message and the Cards cruised after that.
Notre Dame is not a good basketball team this year, I'll say it again. In their remaining nine conference games, I'm setting the over/under on Irish wins at two. Pitt, they'll probably beat, they could win at Boston College. After that, it doesn't look good for the blue and gold.
Louisville impressed me again with the "one-for-all" team concept for the second game in a row. It's much tougher to have to worry about guarding five players than a selected three or four.
Jaz barely missed a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. Ya-Ya was close with nine points and nine rebounds. Adding to the pleasure, Lindsey and Jess saw plenty of minutes, both scored and...well...this was a fun one to just sit back and enjoy on ESPNEWS without stressing over things and worrying about a late collapse.
I hope this Cardinal team that I saw last night continues to play like this in their final eight conference games, against the USA National team and in the ACC Tournament.
("Thanks" to Tom Farmer, of The Crunch Zone, for putting his post-game presser videos on YOU TUBE)