Louisville Survives Scare Against Northwestern
Everyone good? Anyone need any oxygen after last night? Louisville women's basketball hung on to fight another day as they beat Northwestern 62-53.
It felt like a Space Jam script with the Cards seeming to have all the basketball talent sucked out of them early on and Northwestern appearing to be unstoppable. It wasn't until the fourth quarter for Louisville to earn their first lead of the game.
Northwestern knocked down a three-pointer in the first minute of the game and would not look back the rest of the quarter. Jordan Hamilton put up the first seven points of the game before the Cards got on the scoreboard nearly three minutes into the game. The Wildcats would continue to go off on offense and built their lead to 18, at 25-7, before Dana Evans got Louisville to double-digits before the end of the quarter. Northwestern was a perfect 4-4 from three-point range and the Wildcats only averaged four made threes per game all season- and they added six blocks according to the box score. The sports world put an Upset Alert on this game.
It was Louisville's defense that stepped up in the second quarter. The Cards only managed 10 points on offense for the second straight quarter, but surrendered just seven points. Olivia Cochran made a layup halfway through the quarter to cut the deficit to single digits, but a couple quick Northwestern baskets opened the game back up. The missed layup bug seemed to infect the Cards as they couldn't seem to hit from anywhere on the field. Louisville trailed 32-20 at the break.
Oh, what it would be like to have been a fly on the wall in the locker room at halftime.
Jeff Walz certainly woke his team up as they came out and won the third quarter 20-8 to tie the score at 40-40. Eight of the Cards' first 11 points came from the charity stripe, but when made baskets are slim you take every point you can get -- no matter where it comes from. The Wildcats held a 12-point lead at the 5:13 mark in the quarter before the Cards closed out the quarter on a 12-0 run.
Louisville opened the final quarter on a layup by Kianna Smith. It was followed by a lay up with an and one by Hailey Van Lith and the Cards extended their run to 17-0. Louisville fans were finally able to take a quick moment to breathe.
Northwestern wouldn't go away. Every time the Cards built their lead to multiple possessions the Wildcats would find a way to cut it back down. Then, we saw a 95-second period where neither team could score. The Cards made six straight free throws to push their lead up to nine with 35 seconds remaining in the game. Well, you know the rest of the story from there.
Cards win 62-53. They advance to play Oregon Sunday at 7 p.m.
Louisville improves to 3-0 all-time against Northwestern. Their last victory came just 2.5 months after I was born back in 1994. Feel old yet?
Kianna Smith led the Cards with 16 points. She added six rebounds and a pair of assists. Olivia Cochran was a crucial part of the game with 13 points and 15 rebounds for a double-double. Seven of her points came from the free throw line. Hailey Van Lith was perfect when shooting the ball. Her 13 points came off 2-2 from threes, 4-4 overall from the floor, and 3-3 from the free throw line. She struggled early with most of her four turnovers coming in the first half but quickly recovered.
Dana Evans posted 14 points on 5-17 shooting. She went 2-10 from three-point range. The nearly-automatic free throw maker posted a subpar 2-4 from the line. Evans also struggled with foul trouble and ended up with four.
Northwestern's Lindsey Pulliam struggled. The 2000-point club member recorded four points on 1-11 shooting. Credit that to the lockdown defense Kasa Robinson played on her. Jordan Hamilton stepped up to the plate in her place, going off for 17 points including 3-9 from three-point range. Hamilton was one of three Wildcats with double-digit scoring. Louisville did not allow a Northwestern player to record more than seven rebounds.
The win sends Louisville to the Sweet Sixteen for the 10th time in program history, all in the Walz era. The Cards are now 10-2 in the NCAA Tournament in the second round under Jeff Walz.
Free Throws- It was free throws who helped Louisville climb back into this game and free throws that helped them close out the final couple minutes. The Cards went 18-22 (81.8%) from the charity stripe. Northwestern went 7-13 themselves. No doubt, capital "F".
Rebounding- This was a pleasant surprise from the game against Marist. The Cards outrebounded the Wildcats 43-34. They also limited Northwestern to 11 offensive boards to limit their second chance points. Shout out to Olivia Cochran recorded 15 boards (five offensive, 10 defensive) to lead the Cards. Capital "R".
Effort/Execution- This category is a bit tricky. Louisville dug themselves an ugly hole in the first half. Fans were frustrated and nervous. A majority of Louisville's 16 turnovers came in the first half. 16 is always way too many. Louisville shot 19-53 from the field and 6-19 from downtown. BUT, Louisville's effort is what allowed them to come back. Lowercase "e".
Defense- If you take out the first quarter the Cards gave up 28 points. Almost half of Northwestern's point total came in the first quarter. You also can't do much when a team is a perfect 4-4 from three in the quarter. Had the Louisville defense not halted Northwestern in their tracks after the first quarter things could have gotten really ugly, but we cannot give a perfect score because of that quarter as well as the high number of open layups the Cards gave up. Lowercase "d".
Final FRED Report: F-R-e-d. That's not a bad score, but it needs to get better. Oregon won't be as offensively inadequate as Northwestern. It's the Sweet Sixteen and every team from this point forward is great. No more off games.
Up next for the Cards is that #6-seed Oregon. Kelly Graves' Ducks started the tournament by taking down 11-seed South Dakota and then "upset" 3-seed Georgia yesterday. They're now-15-8 but that record is deceiving. Their eight losses came against Stanford, UCLA, Arizona, and Oregon State, each twice. All four of those teams made the tournament and two are still alive (Stanford and Arizona(.
Tennis Climbs Into Rankings
Louisville women's tennis has moved into the national rankings. The Cards are ranked #45 in the latest poll.
Andrea Di Palma snuck into the rankings as an individual. The sophomore from Argentina is ranked #87 and boasts a 5-1 record when playing at the Bass Rudd Center.
The doubles team of Raven Neely and Tatiana Simova also found themselves ranked. The duo is ranked #45 with a 9-4 record. Most recently, the upset Miami's top doubles squad who was ranked #2 at the time.
The Cards have lost five straight, all in conference play, but look to bounce back on Friday at noon against Xavier.
The Cardinal Couple NCAA WBB Pick Em
Here's a look at last night's results:
-- Louisville defeated Northwestern 62-53 (Everybody breath now...)
-- Maryland defeated Alabama 100-64 (Definitely not Sweet Home Alabama...)
-- Oregon defeated Georgia 57-50 (Ducks dodge another bullet)
-- Missouri State defeated Wright State 64-39 (only four of our contestants had them)
-- Indiana defeated Belmont 70-48 (Local favorite Grace Berger fights on!)
-- Arizona defeated BYU 52-46 (Cactus Power !)
-- Texas A&M defeated Iowa State 84-82 (OT) (Jordan Nixon is my hero)
-- Texas defeated UCLA 71-62 (Bye bye Bruins, the Horns stuck ya)
Louisville wasn't the only team needing to rally to win. Arizona used a strong second half to defeat BYU. Texas A&M had to rally from a large deficit to take Iowa State into overtime and win on a buzzer beater.
Some of the games that made impacts on several brackets included Texas over UCLA and Oregon over Georgia.
The updated standings are listed below:
39-9: Kenny Schneider, Callie Blue
38-10: David Watson, Jason Wyrick
37-11: Worldwide Jeff McAdams
35-13: Arthur, Sonya Sykes, Jared Anderson (Bracket Czar)
34-14: Nole Knowledge, Clemson Cuz
33-15: Blue Lou, Case Hoskins, Kenneth Stark Sr, Vivian McAdams
30-18: Nick O, Curtis Franklin
27-21: Joe Hill
23-25: CC Chimps
There are 15 games remaining in the tournament. The Chimps and Joe Hill have both been eliminated from any first place potential. Based off teams that were picked for future rounds Nick O, Curtis Franklin, and Bea have also been eliminated from first place. There's probably a few more that cannot win first place, but I'll need to do a little more digging to get that info.
Even if your bracket isn't doing so hot you can still hope to have a strong finish to get that record up. We have several friends here whose loyalty may lie with other teams whose seasons have finished such as Kentucky, Florida State, and Clemson, so we hope you will cheer on the Cards the rest of the way with us. We do have a few Georgia Tech fans that pop in on occasion so congrats on your team advancing to the Sweet Sixteen! Hopefully we'll meet in the Final Four.
There are three ACC teams remaining in the Sweet Sixteen. The Big Ten has four teams remaining. The Pac-12 has three teams left. The Big 12 has two teams left. The SEC has two teams left. The Big East and Missouri Valley each have one team left.
Happy Thursday and Go Cards!