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Monday, January 20, 2020

WBB Cards shine early, hang on late in 74-67 win at UNC -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


An impressive start yesterday for the University of Louisville women's basketball squad against the North Carolina TarHeels women's basketball squad in Chapel Hill, NC. Louisville jumped out to a 27-14 first quarter lead and were able to build that to a 20-point difference before UNC came roaring back in the the final quarter to cut the margin to four.

The Cards were able to hang on, though, and eventually put the Tar Heels away 74-67 in front of 4027 attendees in Carmichael Arena. 

Early on, Louisville could do no wrong. The Cards raced out to a 14-3 lead in the first four minutes, getting balanced scoring from Jazmine Jones, Dana Evans, Kylee Shook and Elizabeth Balogun while playing shutdown defense against the slow-to-start, error-prone home team.

Just about everyone Walz played in the first ten minutes was getting involved in the offense, two back-to-back buckets by Jones made it 18-5 Louisville with four minutes left in the first session and the Cards got a Evans layup with 41 seconds on the clock to hold a commanding 27-14 advantage over a UNC squad that had committed eight turnovers already and looked lost and confused on the hardwood. Once again, the Cards had roared out to an impressive beginning. 

Louisville continued to hold UNC at bay in the second quarter. The Cards were having success in silencing the Tar Heels powerful post Janelle Bailey (who ended up with just four first-half points), Liz Dixon and Kylee were strong in the paint and Dana and Jaz were handling the scoring for the Cards. A brief, quarter-opening 7-4 run had gotten UNC back with 10 at 31-21 after the first four minutes but it was still a double-digit difference.

 Louisville responded with a 8-2 run over the next three minutes, including one of those "she did it again" seemingly impossible Evans scores. At 37-21, Louisville would go on to take their largest lead after Bionca Dunham sank two free throws to make it 43-25 with 1:41 left in the half, Liz Dixon gathered the Cards last basket on the second quarter after two heads-up passes got her the ball and Louisville had soared through the first twenty minutes to build a 45-29 lead on the UNC squad. 

The Cards shot 70% in the second quarter, 60% overall in the first half, they were out-rebounding UNC 15-8, Dana and Jaz had 22 first-half points for the visitors and UofL had forced 12 turnovers, four of them off steals. 

UNC did begin the second half with a bit of fight in them, benefiting from an opening 5-0 run to get within 11 at 45-34 in the first three minutes. The Cards turned back the challenge, though, with two straight buckets from a driving Jones and two straight three-point plays out of of them an "and 1" and the other a three-pointer from deep. UofL had responded to build the advantage back to 57-38 halfway through the third quarter.

The Cards equaled their largest lead, 20 points, when Evans drove to the hoop and scored to make it 62-42. The final two minutes of the quarter proved to be a scoreless stretch for the Red and Black, but UNC managed just three points in the same stretch. Louisville was sitting pretty after three at 62-45. Dana's eight points in the 10 minutes had spurred a 17-16 Cardinal win of the third quarter and the basic question I suspect many UNC fans were asking was: 

Was there any fight left in UNC? 

As it turned out, yes, there was over the final ten minutes. Almost enough to pull off an upset. 

The quarter began slowly, in terms of point-production, a Jaz free throw early was the only point scored in the first 1:25 of the final session. Bailey was starting to wake up, and connected inside for UNC. Then, she added two free throws.  Liz Dixon was now in the game trying to slow her down but another made Bailey bucket cut the margin to 12 with seven minutes to play. Louisville had not made a shot from the floor yet in the fourth, part of a five minute stretch where the only Cardinal points came from free throws. Starting UNC point guard Shayla Bennett had picked up her fifth foul with 7:15 left. The Heels had to turn to seldom used Kennady Tucker at point guard. 

Dixon finally connected on a inside score to push the lead to 67-53, but, the Tar Heels had the answer, going on a 7-0 run over the next two minutes to make it 67-60 with 4:55 on the clock. Designated three-point shooter Leah Church had connected on a bomb and a steal by Madinah Muhammad from Dana had Cardinal fans wondering if Walz needed a time out, but, the fourth quarter media break stopped the action for him. 

UNC was on a 15-5 run since the start of the fourth quarter and "nervous" would be a good tern to describe how most Cardinal fans watching or listening were feeling.

"Uncle mo" was wearing a baby blue jersey and Walz went back to Dunham for Dixon inside to see ifs he could stem the tide. A missed UNC layup led to a Dunham rebound and she found Jones, who found Balogun for a much needed basket. 69-60 with 3:48 to play. Dunham then connected inside, off a great pick and roll, and the lead stood at 71-62 with 2:54 remaining

The Tar Heels had one last spurt in them. Two missed Cardinal shots and a turnover led to five straight UNC points and Taylor Koenen's deep three had trimmed the Cardinal advantage to 71-67 with 1:22 left.  A raucous crowd in Carmichael roared their approval for the Tar Heels never-say-die, rally effort.  

That three was UNC's final points of the contest, though.

The Cards were intent on burning some clock and ran off most of the ensuing shot clock until a Koenen steal led to a three-point shot from Muhammad. It missed the mark with 22 seconds left, however, and UNC was reduced to fouling to try and cut the margin. Dana sank two free throws with 22 seconds to go and "E" added one with three seconds left to close out the scoring.  The Ta rHeels missed their last three attempts from three-point range and Louisville had held on for the 74-67 win. 

This one could well be known as "the challenge at Chapel Hill". The Cards had gotten the "W" despite shooting just 3-11 (27.2%) in the final 10 minutes, committing four turnovers at crucial junctions of the quarter and had been out-scored 22-12.

The UNC knockout punch had fallen short...and Walz's squad had survived. 18-1 and 7-0 in the ACC. 

It was a road win (and, you know what we say about those) against an opponent that doesn't lose very often at home and that had tested the Cards resolve in the final quarter. 


We'll go with Fred Gwynne -- aka
Herman Munster, for that scary win.
FREE THROWS -- The Cards were 15-18 from the line, Jaz and Dana responsible for 10 of those in 11 attempts. Free throw makes totaled for half of the Cards scoring in the fourth quarter and we'll take 75% for a CAPITAL "F" in this category. 

REBOUNDING -- Cards get the edge here with 33, compared to 24 for UNC. Let's credit the "B&B" girls...(Balogun with nine and Bionca with seven grabs) who had 16 of them combined. Despite only two for Jaz in 36 minutes, I'll bring out the CAPITAL "R'. 

EFFICIENCY/EXECUTION -- For three quarters, this category stat look great. But, the fourth quarter drop off allowed UNC to narrow the points-in-the-paint Louisville margin to 38-30, and hold the Cards to the 27% mark from the floor late. 15 turnovers isn't that bad but it's more of when they committed them (four of them late in the game). 48.3% shooting helps me to determine that I'll go with a small-case "e" here

DEFENSE -- Once again, Louisville was spectacular in shutting down, Bailey, Koenen and Muhammad for thirty minutes but the three ended up with 50 of the UNC 67 points. And, the early, turnover-forcing defense Louisville had disappeared late. The Cards tied UNC in points-off -turnovers (16) and barely won the fast-break points battle 10-8. I'll offer a small-case "d" for this category, because it was a win and the  defense looked great for three quarters. 



Credit to the Cards for coming out and building an advantage early that couldn't be overcome. Props, also, for weathering a full-out, no-holds barred late run from a UNC squad that tested Louisville. 

Norika Konno did not play in the contest, a knee issue might have her sidelined for a couple of weeks, according to reports. 

Big minutes off the bench again for Kasa Robinson, Liz Dixon and Yacine Diop in a game that Louisville never trailed in, but, Louisville is still searching for that knock-out, killer punch and couldn't find it Sunday in Carolina. 

A win is a win, the Cards did that and the season moves on. Dana and Jaz to the rescue once again, it's been a common theme this season and with half of Louisville's baskets between them (14 of 28), the "co-Alphas" are still leading the Cards in a season that has been enjoyable, a bit nerve-wracking at times, but highly successful. 

I expect they'll be glad to see the Downtown Arena again and will return there Thursday for an 8 p.m. contest against Virginia. 

Have a marvelous  Monday ! 




  1. OK, ol' Dave-O has come back to eat a little crow. Personally, i like mine thinly sliced on pumpernickel with mayo and fresh spinach or romaine lettuce. If you could add a dab of German potato salad on the side and a couple of dill pickle wedges, that'd be great. If I'm here to eat, let's make it a meal.

    Louisville did not lose to UNC, but, with the win, they did prove a couple of my points. The Cards "killer mentality" seems to be buried with Jimmy Hoffa in an unmarked grave in Brooklyn. 24-12 in the fourth quarter and Dana and the Cards looked lost and erratic for most of the final 10 minutes.

    Janelle Bailey is a beast and it is my sincere hope she enters the transfer portal at the end of the season and eventually ends up in a Louisville uniform. Argue all you want about other ACC centers being better than her, my ears are closed, I'm screaming "la-la-la-la-la" and can't hear you. That young woman is tough with a capital "T".

    UNC defends their home court with the ferocity of a mama bear guarding her cubs. It look them awhile to get into the action, but once they got started, I'm just glad there isn't a fifth quarter in women's basketball.

    (Speaking of "Fifth Quarter" -- Paulie, it's been a while since I've dined in the Ville. Is that scrumptious Fifth Quarter restaurant still open off Preston Highway?)

    So, I am very happy that the Cards won yesterday and glad they 'deep sixed' my prediction. For what its worth, I also thought the Titans and Packers would be in the Super Bowl. Just a "0 fer 3" for the Watson wizard prediction slate in Sunday action.

    Signing off a bit wiser and proud of the win, I remain :

    Dave O

    1. Thanks for stopping in with the follow up, David. Your points were widely discussed in the Cardinal Couple podcast on Saturday and for a brief minute in the fourth quarter, I thought your prophecy just might come true. Bailey is a beast, though...I'd love to see her leave Chapel Hill for Louisville and yes, we have no bananas, oops...killer instinct as of late within this Cardinal squad.

      Also, the legendary Fifth Quarter restaurant closed in 2009. A damn shame, I loved their salad bar and prime rib. Plus, they had a nice little bar there to "whet one's appetite". One of the first places Sonya and I went when we were first dating, just after the invention of electricity. (Drum Roll.)


  2. Good "get some crunch time game experience" for Dixon. But I gotta go with no Kylee in the 4th quarter had some effects.
    Dixon did provide some quality minutes otherwise.
    We weathered the comeback and left with a win on the road. Good teams find a way to win, and, we are a good team.
    My opinion is we are at the point in the season where we're getting consistency and cohesiveness with the rotation and are going to be ready come tourney time, when you wanna be at your very best.

  3. Word is Kylee was experiencing knee pain that limited her playing time. No further information available.


  4. Maybe a needed tough one for the women but Walz can't be happy at all with that fourth quarter. I know I wasn't but it's a testimonial to just how strong the ACC is this year. Win is a win, UofL got one. I'm taking it!

    Please take care of your knees Dana and Jaz.

    Curtis "another one bites the dust" Franklin

  5. Hello Friends!
    Arthur here!

    So, how crazy was yesterday? My Tigers down Duke, Miami falls again, this time to Notre Dame, and Boston College beats Georgia Tech. And, the Cards lose a 20 lead to UNC !

    This conference is wildly unpredictable except for Louisville and NC State.

    I hope Konno and Kylee will be OK. With all the knee injuries for women in basketball, I wonder if training and conditioning methods need to be revisited?

    Your friend
    #1 Clemson Fan
    Greer, SC

    1. Knee injuries, and mostly ACL tears, are not just isolated to women's basketball, nearly all women's sports see high incidents of that injury.

      I have spoken to a couple of volleyball coaches about the issue and, yes, there is an elevated scrutiny of training methods and work to adjust practices, conditioning, and weight training in an effort to strengthen knees to try to cut down on ACL tears.

      There is definitely awareness and work being done in that direction.


  6. The cards played a good game for three quarters. A 4th quarter melt down ,minus Kylee & E in that quarter.But a road win is a good win in the ACC.GO CARDS!! A big shout out to Mykasa & Liz playing hard on both ends coming off the bench.

  7. Any road win in the ACC is a good win.

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