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Monday, January 11, 2021

Defense delightful in Cards cruise over Clemson 70-45 -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


It was a strange and puzzling scenario leading up to the Cards WBB win over Clemson on Sunday. 

The game was originally scheduled for noon -- but was pushed to 2 p.m.-- (about 90 before the planned start of the contest). The reason? In a blanket-covering comment of the situation,  the ACC reported the delay was affected because of:

"A result of a player undergoing further (COVID) testing." 

The word we got was that a player woke up Sunday morning and didn't feel so good. In these days of the pandemic, it is immediate cause for testing and contact tracing. The proceedings resulted in Louisville having only seven players at the start of the game until the other five were retested and cleared.

So, the Cards WBB squad took to the floor for the tip with a bit of an altered starting line in Kianna Smith, Dana Evans, Elizabeth Dixon, Hailey Van Lith and Mykasa Robinson. The good news was that four of the "on-hold" players were eventually allowed to return to the sidelines after their test came back negative. Ahlana Smith did not see action for the Cards -- make what you will out of that. 

Despite all the delay and trepidation, the Cards WBB squad turned in a stellar defense performance, arguably their best of the 2020-21 season, in limiting the Tigers to 27.1% shooting, no made three-pointers in 19 attempts and just five fourth quarter points in the runaway win. 

Louisville also put four players in double figure scoring...Kianna Smith leading the way with 17, "E" Balogun added 14, in what may be been her best overall game of the season, and Dana Evans and Liz Dixon added 10 points each. Evans sat the entire second quarter, due to early foul trouble, and saw just 23 minutes overall -- but the Cards, in her early absence -- put together a 18-12 edge in scoring over Clemson in the 10 minutes before half. 

UofL did start a bit slowly and maybe that's attributable to two new starters on the court. Six turnovers in the first seven minutes brought back painful memories of the Cards third quarter against Virginia Tech on Thursday, but, in the words off Jeff Walz: 

"We settled down some, and that's what we needed to do. We were just getting way too careless with the basketball and it was just nice to finally see us get up shorts and make that extra pass." 

After Evans second foul, with about a minute left in the first quarter, Walz decided to sit her but Kianna Smith and Hailey Van Lith took reigns of the team and the Cards used the six-point win of the quarter to go from a 16-14 lead to a 34-26 advantage at the half. Defense was getting it done for the Cards, too. Clemson was shooting just 13-34 (38%) from the floor and had not been to the free throw line yet. 

Walz shortened up the lineup Sunday a bit with only eight players seeing 17 minutes or more.  

As the second half began, the Tiger's effort continued to plummet. it was 53-40 Cards after three. A huge 15-2 run by Louisville in the third made the score 49-30 and it was highlighted by threes from Evans and Smith, plus Balogun scoring five of her points in the stretch. 

One almost had to feel sorry for the Tigers in the final quarter. The ball simply wouldn't go in. Clemson didn't score until Delicia Washington connected on a put-back with 4 minutes to go. Clemson would not make another basket...they were 1-20 from the floor in the fourth, but did sink three of their four free throws. 

Washington, by the way, ended up with 10 points on the afternoon -- but she'll probably best be remembered for her unsportsmanlike-like behavior. With 5:25 left in the first half, she encountered the Cards Dixon after a Dixon rebound, Dixon was quickly pulled away from the potential fracas by the teammates (which was probably quite fortunate for Washington). Washington, however, continued to "jaw" and demonstrate,  she was "T'd" up by the officiating crew and removed from the game by Clemson head coach Amanda Butler, Washington then continued her show of discontent on the Clemson sidelines, arguing with Butler and stomping off to sit down, changing chairs to distance herself from Coach and then carrying on a seemingly heated discussion with assistant coach Daniel Barber.  

All in all, as Coach Butler pointed out, It was a game where the Cards plainly dictated the course of action on the court. Louisville shot well in the contest and after the rough, turnover stretch in the first quarter, simply out-played the Tigers on both ends of the court. 


Early struggles Sunday but an eventual blowout...

FREE THROWS -- The Cards had nine attempts and made eight of them. Only three Cards went to the line in 40 minutes -- Kianna, Hailey and "E". That 89% success rate is well-over the 70% we mandate as worthy of a letter, SO IT EASILY EARN A CAPITAL "F".  34 fouls were called in the contest, 17 per side...which was the exact number of fouls called in the Virginia Tech game. 

REBOUNDS -- Clemson won the battle of the boards 43-41. That was largely because of their 21-10 advantage on offensive rebounding. I keep this stat pretty simple...if the Cards lose the "grabs" stat, they don't get a letter -- so, no letter here. 

EFFORT/EXECUTION -- Louisville committed 16 turnovers but only 10 in the final three quarters. They barely took the points-in paint stat 26-24, and had small margins of superiority in fast break points, points-off-turnovers...but lost the second-chance points stat. The Cards 45.8% shooting and 8-22 three-point efforts (36%) were enough to get them a letter, but a smallcase "e" is all I'll award. 

DEFENSE --  This was where the Cards excelled Sunday. They won the turnovers stat, steals stat, won 9-0 in blocks and held the Tigers to 0-19 three point shooting and 27.1% from the floor. They easily get A CAPITAL 'D" FOR THE DEFENSE...IT WAS THEIR BEST DEFENSIVE EFFORT OF THE 2020-21 SEASON. 



The imaginative mind of our pool photographer Jared Anderson is always a delight to encounter.

  (@mrandersonjared on Twitter) caught this great sequence of Coach Walz during the contest and I just had to use it today.  Add your own captions...if you want.. 



"Hey, we're finally underway!"

"And we're all going to watch the Steelers later tonight!" 

"Here's how I plan on eating my wings during the game" 

"And I'll be sure to serve punch to everyone!" 

(Obviously, these were taken well before the Steelers playoffs game last night. Maybe he was watching Lamar and the Ravens...)

Louisville returns to action Thursday night (fingers crossed) when they host the Boston College Eagles for a 8 p.m. tip (fingers crossed again) in the KFC YUM Center.




  1. Nice defensive win, shows we can prosper without Dana and onto the next on. Great photos and funny sequence today, guys.

    Nick O

  2. Easily the deepest team we've ever had top to bottom.
    Wish this season has gone on schedule, this team would be clicking on all cylinders by now and a nightmare scout for opposing teams, never know WHAT combo is coming at you.
    See they tried taking Dana and Hailey out with no success because they couldn't stop whatever other 3 were on the court at the time.

  3. I know Arthur and like him I am a huge Clemson Fan as well. I didn't really start following any women's basketball until Amanda arrived on our campus, though. I heard her speak to a booster group I am in here and made the decision to start attending games. I am a widower and welcome the diversion. Plus. I've met a few nice single/widow women at our games that I "used to" see socially before COVID made me a stay at. home guy


    Yes, we shot horribly yesterday.
    Yes. some of that poor shooting was because of UofL defense.
    Yes, Delicia Washington was an ass out on the court but she can get emotionally charged like that.

    Good win Cards and I would love to see you beat smug Wes Moore and his Wolfpack women Sunday.

    You all do good, revealing and concise articles at this site. I love the "Fred" synopsis and the photography. If Louisville women's athletics doesn't appreciate you, I'd suggest they wake up. I'd live to see a site like yours covering Clemson womens athletics.

    Take care,

    Clemson Cuz

  4. Thank you for the kind words Cuz!! We do what we do because our love of the programs.


  5. Great game, great article!

    Arthur, if you see this comment, is Clemson Cuz one of the guys we tailgated with when I was down there? I seem to remember a guy, I think he called himself Cuz. who was cooking brats and kept giving me shots of Jim Beam Black.

    Curtis "Be Kind" Franklin


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