EVANS 27 LIFTS CARDS TO 18-1
In what was upset-filled Sunday of ACC women's basketball, Louisville held off a Notre Dame fourth-quarter comeback by getting a three from Dana Evans with 57 seconds to play... to stretch a one-point lead out to four and eventually get two Evans free throws to escape the KFC YUM! Center with a 71-65 win.
We'll get to the "upsets" later in today's column, let's talk about Louisville narrowly avoiding one of their own. Notre Dame was the team that would not go away.
The Cards sometimes porous defense and shaky offense was largely responsible for allowing the Irish to erase a 64-54 Louisville lead with 6:50 to go in the game and go on a 9-2 run late and get within at 66-65 one when Dara Mabrey connected on a three with 1:41 to play. Another "check the blood pressure" moment when Maddy Westbeld stole the ball from Kianna Smith right after that basket, but, thankfully -- her layup came up short. Evans "dagger" ensued and the Cards looked to be safe, after quite the scare. The final five points to Evans.
Kianna Smith had a game-saving fourth quarter for Louisville as well...canning two threes to build the 10-point lead -- Liz Dixon was the only other Cards to score in a final quarter where Louisville managed just 13 points.
It was a contest where the Cards would build leads that approached double digits or better and then watch as the Irish battled back. It was also a contest where both teams shot under 40% and had double-digit turnovers. It was hardly a 40-minute work of art by either squad, but "most-points wins" and thanks to Evans huge night, 2912 fans left the KFC YUM! Center happy on Sunday.
The first two quarters were "bookends" -- where the Cards scored 21 points in each and Notre Dame scored 17 each. That 42-34 halftime lead was created when Evans had the last five points again over the final 1:30 of play. Dana's 16 first half points led all scorers and Elizabeth Balogun added 10 in just 13 minutes of action. A quiet first half for freshman Hailey Van Lith, Notre Dame had assigned junior Mabrey to guard her and held Van Lith to three first half points. That's what she would finish the game with, as well, in just 19 minutes.
A win is a win, you know how the song goes, I know -- but the Cards weren't able to shut the door on the Irish after shoving them out on the porch last night. Notre Dame, it should be said, does have quite a bit of talent on their squad, they had four players finished with ten points each (Westbeld, Vaughn Brunelle and Miles) and Walker totaled nine. Miles, in particular, seemed to be able to get to the basket quite easily against the Cards and her six-point run, with three baskets, in just 90 seconds of the third quarter pulled the Irish back within two at 52-50.
THE FRED REPORT
FREE THROWS -- Louisville went 8-12 from the line and that equals 66.7%. Dana was OK with hers at 5-6 but no other Cardinal made more than one and five other players attempted them. 66.7% is below the 70% standard we set here for a letter, so no letter is awarded.
REBOUNDING -- The Cards managed a 41-41 tie on grabs with UND and you can thank Cochran (11) and Robinson (8) for that. Robinson grabbed two crucial ones at the end of the game -- off missed UND shot attempts -- that denied second-chance opportunities, so hats off to her. ! can safely award a small-case "r" here for the tie.
EFFORT/EXECUTION -- I wasn't thrilled with the 12 turnovers and seeing several leads throughout the game evaporate, but the Cards were not loafing around, it was more things weren't going their way. Interior passing still need to get better (Dixon and Cochran combined for just six points in 42 minutes) but Dana's heroics in the final minute, and all game were a joy to watch. I'll go with the small-case "e" here.
DEFENSE -- Pluses were Kianna Smith's career-high five steals and Louisville eight blocked shots. The Cards also forced 13 turnovers. The "build a nice lead and watch it evaporate" scenario was troublesome, though. The defensive lapses were rough to watch at times and almost cost the Cards the game. I can't award a letter here.
FINAL FRED TALLY: -_r-e-_
The Cards dodged another bullet on Sunday, some might say it was from their own pistol -- but ACC wins are rarely easy and when you're a top-five ranked team, that target is oh, so big.
Witness what happened to NC State yesterday. A fired up UNC squad took it to the WolfPack all game long and got the 76-69 win. The NCST loss drops them to 7-2 in conference play and 2.5 games back of Louisville in the standings. Wake Forest wanted in on the Sunday fun and had a bit of it with a somewhat surprising 61-52 win over third-place Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are now 9-3 in conference play.
FUN WITH PICTURES !
I had a few readers compliment me and Jared for the "fun with pictures" segment we did a couple of games back, so here's another one. Let's just call it "sitting comfortably"
"I'm sitting down for awhile...."
"Ok, Kasa, I'll lay down !!"
"Hey, can I try?"
"This IS fun, E !!"
"Hey, back to work! Look at what time it is !! "
~~~~~(Photos by Jared Anderson today)~~~~~
Have a marvelous Monday