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Friday, January 24, 2020

Strong First Half Sends WBB Cards past UVA 71-56 -- FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


The University of Louisville women's basketball team used a 10-minute stretch that ended the first quarter and extended into the second quarter to outscore Virginia 22-4 and put away the Cavs last night in the KFC YUM! Center before 7776 fans. 

With 5:31 left in opening period action, Louisville found themselves in a bit of a struggle against the foe from Charlottesville. The score was 13-11 and despite Kylee Shook recording the Cards first five points, the Cavs were hanging close to Louisville. 

A media timeout and Jeff Walz inserting Yacine Diop and Liz Dixon into the lineup, though, worked wonders for the Cardinals production. UofL went on a 12-2 closing run to end the quarter, two Dana Evans threes and four points from Diop propelled Louisville to a 25-13 advantage as time expired in the opening session.

Another great start for Louisville and 71% shooting in those first ten minutes from the Cards had this one pretty much looking to be "in the bag" for a UofL "W". 

The hot streak continued as the second quarter began. 

Norika making a list and checking it twice? 
Bionca Dunham ran off three baskets in a row, and after an Evans layup with 6:26 until half, UofL had increased the lead to 35-15. The Cards defense was getting the stops and ended up forcing eight UVA turnovers. Shook already had three blocks in the books and the Cards ended the half ahead 39-22 after a Kasa Robinson jumper. Despite Louisville only hitting two shots out of their final 12 in the last six minutes, they managed to win the quarter 14-9 and were shooting 50% (16-32). They had also managed to hold Virginia to just 33% shooting for the half. 

Evans and Shook had combined for five first half three pointers, the Cards were winning the points in paint battle 18-8, had 11 points off turnovers (compared to UVA's 5) and were out-rebounding the smaller foe 20-16. Walz had already played the nine players available for the game (Jess Laemmle and Molly Lockhart were out with the flu) and it looked like UofL had the Hoos boarding the bus early to navigate I-65 traffic. 39-22 was the score, it probably could have been much higher if the Cardinals hadn't stumbled and sputter a bit as the quarter wore down. 

It didn't quite turn out to be a romp, though, in the final twenty minutes.  

UVA came out determined to get back into the contest and, after Louisville went on an early 4-0 run to start the quarter and build their largest lead of the game at 43-22 after Jaz Jones got in the scoring column, the Cavs struck back. 

43-22 became 43-30 in the space of three minutes. Balanced Virginia scoring and the Cards five missed shots and three turnovers had turned the momentum and lead to a 8-0, four minute Cavalier run. Robinson connected on two free throws with 4:16 to go and Diop followed suit with two more charity tosses two minutes later to give UofL a 46-33 lead.

The Cards played VA pretty evenly to close out the third quarter thanks to Jaz.  Her 5-0 quarter-ending run included an old-fashioned three point play and two free throws, but a late Shemera Williams three pulled the Virginia  squad within 12 as the quarter ended with the score board showing 51-39 Louisville. 

The Cards made just three of 11 shot attempts in those 10 minutes, Virginia had scored six points off turnovers and won the quarter 17-12. What would the final period bring? 

Fortunately, the Cards did not suffer a fourth-quarter collapse like they did at UNC Sunday. Dana, Jaz and Elizabeth Balogun made sure of that. The trio combined for 17 of Louisville's 20 final quarter points. Louisville got off to a slow start in the fourth, but, UVA couldn't do much either. Just seven points scored in the first two minutes, the Cards getting two of them on a pair of Jones free throws. UVA narrowed it to 11 after a Jocelyn Willoughby jumper that made it 55-44, but UofL responded with a 5-0 run, started by a Balogun three and capped off by an Evans layup to create a 16-point, 60-44 lead with 5:58 to play. 

UVA head coach Tina Thompson maybe reminiscing
about her stellar playing career? 
UVA would get no closer than 13 the rest of the way. An Evans jumper made it 67-47 at the four-minute mark. Three Cardinal free throws in a excessive, late whistle blowing contest between the officials, set the tally at 71-53.

Freshman Shemera Williams, who had a nice outing against the Cards with 20 points off the bench in just 22 minutes ended the scoring with a late three.

Louisville had captured their eighth straight ACC win with the 71-56 final. 


Fred G. Sanford , the "G" stands for Gun, Balogun,
He would have enjoyed last night's win 
FREE THROWS --  24 fouls called in the final 20 minutes of this outing, compared to just 13 in the first half. The Cards went to the line and shot for an acceptable 75% on 15-20 marksmanship. Diop and Jones went 9 for 12, Dana only got two chances but made them both.  75% works for all parties concerned, much better than the Hoos 10-18, 55.6%, and we have no problem extending a CAPITAL "F" for knocking down the ones where no one is guarding you. 

REBOUNDS -- How about "E" !! She dominated the defensive end of the court with 10 grabs and ended up with 12 grabs overall to lead all players. Louisville won the battle-of-the-boards 40-33. Kylee added seven rebounds and the CAPITAL "R" goes out for a gutsy performance against a battling UVA squad that was employing a four guard offense most of the game. Credit to Jocelyn Willoughby, whose 11 rebounds complemented her 17 points. Get to know the name, readers, she'll be earning money in the WNBA next year. 

EFFICIENCY/EXECUTION -- For stretches in this one, the Cards looked like the #3 squad in the nation. Sixteen turnovers still a bit high, but they passed the ball well most of the game (13 assists on 25 made baskets) shot an acceptable 44% from the floor and proved the best in the paint 28-20. That third quarter lapse, though, will dictate that a small case "e" is the designation here. All nine Cards that played had at least one turnover. 

DEFENSE -- UVA came into the game last in ACC scoring with just 59 points and Louisville defense did what most expected them to do, allowing just 56. Kylee Shook the "wow" factor last night with six blocked shots and Dana and Jaz created three steals each. Only 36% shooting for the Cavaliers and a mere 21% in the second quarter. After deliberation,  I'll extend a CAPTIAL "D" for holding the foe under their already lacking season point production and creating a game where only two Cavs were effective from the floor. 



Post game comments below: 





Louisville came home and did what they were expected to do, beat a sub .500 ACC foe by double digits. UofL held Virginia to below their season average with mostly spectacular defense and double figure scoring performances from Dana, Jaz and Kylee. 

Jaz had a rough first half but responded with all of her 13 points in the second session. Kylee was "on" early and ended with 10 points in just 25 minutes. Dana...maybe I've gotten a bit spoiled or jaded by her consistent, every game magic....led all scorers with 21 points and logged a team-high 35 minutes. It's what she does, regular as rain in Louisville. 

I'll point out the very effective games Bionca Dunham and Yacine Diop had last night. "B" is the blue collar, punch the clock and go to the job --  working class hero on this squad. One rebound may raise a few eyebrows, but she did total eight points and was creating havoc for the Cavs when they had the ball. YA-YA came off the bench, helped spur the early, dominating run and, despite the four fouls, once again showed that she will always give you 100% plus when she's on the court. Her defense and overall hustle were key last night.

Let's hope the flu bug stays away from the rest of the roster and the Cards go into Sunday ready to rumble against Pitt. If not, Jeff Walz is bringing in over 1500 Girl Scouts in on the Sabbath to bolster the noise level and I would imagine there will be a few Thin Mints available for fan-base dining pleasure.

Maybe a couple GSA attendees will get playing time if the Cards can run up a sizable lead against the visiting Pitt Panthers. NC St. doubled the score on them last night 88-44. 

According to Coach Walz, if you freeze them, they become fat-free (FDA opinion on this pending). Bring cash, y'all. 

Also, it was good to see my good friend Bobbie and her son in attendance last night. Talk about huge Cardinal fans, they traveled down from way up north for this one.

Finally, former Cardinal staffer Jimmy Yu was at the game, performing his duties as UVA's assistant WBB operations director. I had a quick chat with him before the contest, he's a rising star in the profession and a great guy overall. We're going to need to do a feature on him during the slow months of Summer 2020. 




  1. Another workmanlike win. Can't complain about those.

    I agree with what you said about Bionca Dunham. You don't always notice her, but she quietly gets 6-8 points and is a leader on defense. A great "blue collar" player. Every team needs a couple of them.

    Question - Jared took the photo of Konno and her notebook. I was sitting in Row A directly across from her last night during the second half, and she took notes throughout the whole 20 minutes. I'd love to know what she was observing?

    1. Konno was writing notes about Cardinal Couple readers is what I heard. I think she devoted a chapter to you, Mike.

      Listen to Walz's post game comments about the writing and Curtis has the "cliff notes" version of her penmanship proclivity with his comment.


    2. I just listened to Walz's comments. Wow, I'm really impressed by Konno - regardless of her success for us on the court.

  2. A win is a win and that first half run so exciting last night for WBB. I liked Walz's post game comments on Norika and her scribbling.

    Her goal is to learn enough about basketball to someday lead her Japanese National team to an Olympic gold medal. He also mentioned Kianna Smith helps Norika with Basketball 101 on the bench.

    A perfect description, Paulie. Louisville did what they were expected to do and got the "W". One game at a time.

    Curtis "Paulie, you were on TV last night!" Franklin

  3. Excellent team victory. Showing much progress on everyone being on the same page, as in everyone doing what they do, and everyone knowing what everyone else does, and individuals showing progress with things that make them better. Like Kasa. Showing good form on her shot, won't be long before she will be hitting enough to make opponents have to guard her. And Dixon looking more and more comfortable and getting plenty of quality minutes. And Balogun being a force board wise. We can sub now without subtracting.
    Props to Walz and staff, getting this team tournament ready at the right time. As usualšŸ¤—

  4. I agree that was a impressive 1st quarter of basketball everyone on the Same page offensively and defense was on lock down.
    Go Cards Merv

  5. Hello Friends !
    Arthur Here !

    I got to watch almost all of the Louisville game, which followed my Tigers loss to the Bea Mompreimere absent Miami Hurricanes 68-64. Clemson rallied to get within three at 67-64 and Kendall Spray had a three-point attempt to tie it with 35 seconds to go, but, the shot didn't fall.

    Once again, a poor start hurt the Tigers. 24 first half points aren't going to get you much. We're now 3-5 in conference and 7-12 overall. Being tied for sixth place in the ACC with Syracuse, Boston College and Miami isn't exactly the way to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

    The Cards were flying high in those first 15 minutes, as good as I've seen them this year. The Tigers haven't played Virginia yet and who knows what we'll look like after games at Virginia Tech and North Carolina, plus hosting NC State before we go against the Cavaliers in February.

    Dana continues to show everyone why she's the best guard in the ACC and Kylee was impressive again, despite not many second half minutes.

    The thing is, you're doing it as a team and finding a way to win each night. You had a couple of slow minutes, sure, but you came back from them and prospered.

    Our freshman Amari Robinson was the ACC Freshman of the Week last week and had 10 points last night. I think she's going to turn out to be a good one.

    Good luck against a woeful Pitt squad Sunday, but I doubt you need much luck against the Panthers. I think that NC State beat them by 40+ last night up there in Pittsburgh. As for us, we had to go to overtime to beat Pitt. That sort of sums up our season down here.

    Your Friend
    # 1 Clemson Fan
    Greer, SC

  6. Catching up on other ACC action from Thursday Night...

    -- As Arthur mentioned, the Tigers lost to the Canes 68-64

    -- UNC gave Georgia Tech their third ACC loss as the Tar Heels took care of business last night in Atlanta 67-60. Both are 5-3 in conference play now.

    -- NC State visited Pittsburgh and romped the Panthers 88-44. The Wolf Pack remains one game back of Louisville with a 7-1 ACC record.

    -- Virginia Tech defended the home court in Blacksburg with a 70-49 trouncing of Boston College. The Hokies are 4-3 in conference, BC 3-5.

    -- FSU went to Wake Forest and won 70-65. The Noles improve to 5-3 in the ACC, tied with Ga. Tech and UNC for third place.

    -- Duke visited and romped slumping Syracuse 88-58. That one a bit surprising. Duke now 4-4 in conference play and the 'Cuse' 3-5.

    ACC Standings as of 1/24/20:

    Louisville 8-0, 19-1
    NC State 7-1, 18-1
    Florida State 5-3, 16-3
    North Carolina 5-3, 14-5
    Georgia Tech 5-3, 14-5
    Virginia Tech 4-3, 14-4
    Duke 4-4, 10-9
    Wake Forest 4-4, 11-8
    Miami 3-5, 11-8
    Boston Col. 3-5, 10-9
    Syracuse 3-5, 9-9
    Clemson 3-5, 7-12
    Virginia 2-6, 7-12
    Notre Dame 2-5, 7-12
    Pittsburgh 0-7, 3-15



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