FAST START, FEROCIOUS DEFENSE LEAD TO CARDS WIN
Louisville women's basketball tied up the standing at the top of the ACC with an impressive, hard fought 66-59 win over NC State Thursday night in Raleigh.
Jazmine Jones led all scorers with 19 points, Kylee Shook knocked on the triple-double door with 10 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks and Elizabeth Balogun added eight fourth quarter points in the Cards 22nd victory of the year.
Dana Evans played all 40 minutes for the Cards and added 14 points in the Cards sixth straight victory over the Wolfpack. The squads played before a sold-out Reynolds Coliseum (5575 attending).
The Cards contained Elissa Cunane, the NC State All-ACC contender, to just 10 points on 1-12 shooting. If the UofL defense has looked any better this year, I'd be hard-pressed to say when.
Louisville took control of the contest early on, going on a 14-0 run in the first quarter that spanned a six-minute stretch. The Cards went from trailing 6-1 to assuming a 15-6 lead in that stretch, getting contributions from four of the starters and a Jones three with 3:17 left in the first set the score at 15-6 Louisville.
Jones would score the final six points of the first session to give UofL a 19-8 lead. The huge NC State crowd had quieted down quite a bit, partially because NC State was 3-16 from the floor for a woeful 19%.
The Cards would keep up that early momentum in the second quarter, and a Yacine Diop three had UofL holding a 24-13 edge with 7:43 until halftime. Evans gave UofL their largest lead of the half when she rolled in a layup to make it 30-16 with 3:28 left in second quarter action.
You expected NC State to make some kind of run sometime in the contest and their first one followed the Evans score. Seven straight points from the Pack cut the margin to 30-23 with a minute-and-a-half until the mid-game break. Shook recorded a huge block on Cunane, though, with 54 seconds to go and Evans sent a dagger through the NCST defense when her three attempt found paydirt with seven seconds left in the half.
The teams went to the break with Louisville holding a 33-23 advantage. UofL shot 50% (13-26) in those first 20 minutes, Evans and Jones had 10 points each and the Wolfpack limped into the locker room with a paltry 25% (8-32) shooting mark. Kayla Jones was the only bright spot for Wes Moore's squad on offense, leader Elissa Cunane had no baskets and just a few free throws, getting dominated by the Cards contingent of Shook, Bionca Dunham and Liz Dixon. The Cards had also held star-guard "Ace" Konig to one successful basket in the first twenty.
UofL maintained the double-digit lead for most of the third quarter. A Jones jumper created a 36-25 Cards advantage with just a minute-and-a-half into the third quarter. "E" Balogun picked up her third foul a minute later and went to the bench but the Cards were still productive. Evans knocked back a contested shot to make the score 42-31 and Shook made a nice inside move to score with 2:19 left in the quarter to provide the Cards with a 44-35 cushion.
NC State mounted another challenge to close the quarter, getting five straight points to trim the Cardinal advantage to 44-40 with 1:30 on the clock. Louisville was able to find Shook inside again to make it 46-40 with 41 seconds to play in the third and the quarter ended at that score.
The Cards managed just four points in the final four minutes of the third, on Shook's two scores. The Reynolds Coliseum crowd was getting loud again and the Cards knew they had a fight on their hands entering the fourth.
Cunane got the fever pitch inside Reynolds even louder when she sank her only basket of the contest, a wide-open three that came just 33 seconds into the final quarter. 46-43 now and NCST was closer than they'd been since early in th first quarter. How would Louisville respond?
After two missed NCST free throws that could have made it a one-point affair, Diop answered with a three to push the Cardinal lead back to six points at 49-43. The Pack responded with a three, though. Balogun got un-tracked with a jumper, though, ith 6:30 left and it began a 9-2 UofL run over the next three minutes that featured another Balogun score and a dead-on Jones three that pushed Louisville a 60-48 edge with four minutes to play. Two Cunane free throws were all the home team could muster in that stretch.
The Wolf Pack looked deflated, the crowd had quieted and the Cards were back in control.
Balogun connected on a three with 43 seconds to play and Louisville was up 65-53. She added a free throw to close out the Cards scoring, NC State had a couple of threes to get the margin closer in the last 30 seconds. Walz had inserted Laemmle and Duvall into the game, victory assured.
UofL had come into #4 in the nation's den and pulled off a 66-59 win with superb defense, 48.1% shooting and sent the crowd at Reynolds home suffering their squad's first loss at home this season.
THE FRED REPORT
|If Fred McMurray had been there, maybe he|
would have called this one "My Three Cards."
REBOUNDS -- The Cards battled NCST hard on the boards but, led by three players with seven grabs each (Kayla Jones, Cunane and Jakia Brown-Turner) the Pack took the rebounding battle 39-34. Kylee led all rebounders with 10 and Jaz added eight grabs, Balogun seven. Losing the rebound battle won't get a letter.
EFFICIENCY/EXECUTION -- UofL had just nine turnovers in 40 minutes and shot an impressive "almost 50%" against one of the best defenses in the ACC. Only nine assists on 26 made baskets, but, the "three ball" found its way back into the Cardinal offense. Diop and Jones combined for five of the seven made threes in 18 attempts (38.9%). Five players with at least eight points each, in a game where Louisville tallied just 66 points, show the passing was above average and we'll hand out a Captial "E" for the better-than-average execution.
DEFENSE -- This is where the Cards "brought it" last night. Holding the Pack to 32.3% shooting. Containing Cunane to 1-12 shooting and Konig to 1-6. Despite losing the second chance points (15-10), points-off-turnovers (14-12) and points-in-the-paint (32-30), Louisville held NCST to 15 points below their season average and did it in the Pack's house. Kylee was everywhere (10-10-and seven blocks) Defense gets a Capital "D" for last night's caging of the Wolves.
FINAL FRED TALLY: -_-_E-D
A much needed road win over a "maybe ranked too high" #4 NCST that stopped the Cards two-game losing streak. Louisville came out aggressive, got their offense working early and played a whale of a defensive game. The starters got this done, with some huge assistance from previous starter Diop and a gutsy, strong 16 minutes from Kasa Robinson.
The attitude and mission statement the Cards had was, "We don't lose three in a row." and they accomplished the mission. The shooting touch returned for Kylee, Jaz and Dana -- they went 18-34 (53%) from the floor and after a foul-plagued, slow start...Balogun showed what she means to the team with a strong fourth quarter.
The Cards showed a bunch of heart, pride and toughness in their best effort of February and since a 32-point win at Notre Dame last month. Those same Irish comes into the KFC YUM! CENTER on Sunday for the "Play 4 Kay" Pink-out game.
Notre Dame comes to town Sunday after losing a heart-breaker, last second contest to Boston College last night. It's Play 4 Kay. PINK OUT Day so dress accordingly and get out to back your 22-3, 11-2 Cards as they start their final, five-game run to capture the ACC regular-season title.
Redemption and results. Both happened last night for Louisville on Tobacco Road.
(We couldn't find any post-game presser audio/video for either head coach anywhere. The ACC Network did feature Kylee and Jaz on interviews after the contest. We will offer Wes Moore's post game, radio comments. )
LINK: MOORE POST-GAME RADIO COMMENTS
SOFTBALL SWINGS INTO ACC/BIG 10 CHALLENGE ACTION THIS MORNING.
Holly Aprile's Cardinal Softball squad is in Carolina also, participating at UNC's field in Chapel Hill against Big 10 representatives.
They'll get in four games in three days, two each against Michigan and Wisconsin and start it out this morning at 11 a.m. against the Wolverines.
We haven't found a TV link for this yet. It doesn't look like the ACC Network Extra is going to stream it on line, either, so we'll be reduced to following the live stats updates.
Here's a link for those:
The Cards will also face Wisconsin later today at 4 p.m.
We did submit a offer to talk with head Coach Holly Aprile earlier this week, but, did not receive an answer out of the Softball S.I.D office. A quick turn-around for Louisville Softball, though, coming from Florida, getting home and pretty much turning around to go to North Carolina.
The Cards go into the Challenge with a 1-4 record.
Another slate of tough games await with the Wolverines (5-0) and Badgers (4-1).
We'll try to keep you updated of Friday's fortunes on Twitter (@cardinalcouple) or follow the Tweets on the right-side of the site Twitter feed page.
Have a fantastic Friday!