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Thursday, January 20, 2022


 Louisville Visits NC State in Top Five Match-up

One of the biggest games of the NCAA Women's Basketball season happens tonight as #3 Louisville and #4 NC State gear up to decide who the top team in the ACC is. The rankings listed reflect the AP Poll.

I'm going to try a different format for game previews that should be simpler to follow so let's see how this goes.

Teams: #3 Louisville vs #4 NC State

Records: Louisville (15-1, 5-0 ACC), NC State (16-2, 7-0 ACC)

Where: Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, N.C.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET (assuming we don't run into a RAIN delay in a basketball game- looking at you, KFC Yum! Center and UofL men's basketball)


Radio: 790-AM WKRD

Head-to-Head Record: Louisville leads 8-5

Coaches: Jeff Walz, 15th season as Louisville head coach

                Wes Moore, 9th season as NC State head coach

Key Players: Louisville: Kianna Smith (12.2 ppg), Hailey Van Lith (11.9 ppg), Emily Engstler (10.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.8 steals per game)

                     NC State: Elissa Cunane (14.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg), Diamond Johnson (12.0 ppg), Raina Perez (8.8 ppg, 3.2 assists per game)

This is a game that has been circled on everyone's calendar since the schedule was released. Stacking up with Kentucky and UConn (prior to Paige Bueckers' injury), this should be considered one of Louisville's top three games this year.

Louisville and NC State has become one of the top rivalries in both the ACC and NCAA in women's basketball since the Cards joined the ACC. The Wolfpack won the first two meetings in 1985 and 2004, but the Cards have owned the series since then. During the Asia Durr era, Louisville won six straight meetings, including a 92-62 victory when Durr exploded for 47 points.

The emergence of Elissa Cunane has helped NC State bring a little balance to the rivalry by winning the last two games. The 6'5 center, who is one of the best players in the country, has proven to be a challenge for UofL in the post in recent match-ups. Her return from injury in the Feb. 1, 2021 proved to be the difference maker.

The two powerhouses last met in the ACC Championship last season. It came down to the final couple seconds when Perez heaved up a prayer that went in when 0:02 remaining to take a two-point lead.

As a team, NC State is averaging an incredible 79.7 ppg, giving them a +22.9 point advantage per game. They shoot over 40% from three-point range while knocking down 8.5 of them per game. The Wolfpack also limits their turnovers with just under 13 per game while forcing opponents into 16 turnovers per game.

Louisville has a fantastic defense. Minus a couple of games, they've been able to shut down opponents and the defense has propelled them to most of their wins. The Cards have finally started to find some offensive rhythm. Hailey Van Lith and Kianna Smith both seem to be seeing the basket well right now. This has opened up the inside game for Emily Engstler and Olivia Cochran to become more of a threat.


However, Engstler's emotions have raised concerns lately. As we have mentioned before, Engstler plays with a lot of passion and heart, but wears her emotions on her sleeve and isn't afraid to bicker with the officials, something that the stripes hate. Engstler had technical fouls called on her in back-to-back games with Jeff Walz earning himself a tech in the game prior to those two, giving the Cards a three-game streak in early January with a technical called.

Olivia Cochran and Mykasa Robinson each received a technical foul against Kentucky while Chelsie Hall received one against Michigan. The combined six technical fouls is 16 total games for the Cards is a high number.

So, what are the keys to the game for a Louisville win?

-- Contain Elissa Cunane. No one is going to silence her from the stat sheet entirely, but limiting her touches and open looks near the basket is a start. Keep a body on the senior center after every shot.

-- Control emotions. Playing with a fire under your belt and plenty of passion is good, but keep emotions under control. Anything that can result in a free shots for NC State is not good here. We have a better chance of Jeff McAdams going back to a gas-powered car before we find good women's basketball officials, but the whistles cannot get into Louisville's head.

-- Trust the game plan and scouting report. How many times have we heard Jeff Walz praise the scouting report and the game plan, giving that credit for a win? The entire coaching staff has sleepless nights watching film to look for weaknesses to expose opposing teams. They do a great job at it. They'll come up with a game plan to execute that. Even if it doesn't reflect on the court immediately, be patient and trust it.

Happy Thursday and Go Cards!



  1. X Factor Alannah Smith,
    Chelsea Hall Go Cards!

  2. If you ask me, the Cards have to avoid the slow start, deal witth the crowd in Reynolds, keep Cunane and Diamond Johnson in check and get good games from K.Smith, Van Lith and one of the bigs. Engstler needs a solid game and to keep her temper under control. Yeah, I know, that's a long laundry list but you have to ask this question. Are you the C#2 team in the country or not? If you are, you win big ones on the road. Time to go out and prove it, Cards.

    Nick O.

  3. This is what it's ALL about!
    Two of the best teams in the nation going at it with all their players available, sold out, game probably going down to the wire.
    Here's hoping we land the last 👊.

  4. Who gets who into foul trouble could be huge. Does Cunane or Engstler have to sit for a lengthy period?

    Paulie, I know you've experienced that NCST crowd live and they can be a factor too.

    I wish the best for our Cards!

    Blue Lou

  5. Yeah, our ability to keep Cunane out of the lane will be a key factor.
    Thinking Liz is a better match for her on defense than O, especially if she can limit the fouls.
    Kylee showed how to play her, and Liz is a little taller than O.

  6. Could even see Ramani for some minutes.
    Watching Cunane over the years, she struggles more against taller players trying to get her shot off.

  7. Ah, yes...

    It's hard to believe it's been a little over four years since Sonja and I were in Reynolds for the game.

    The stop was our final leg of a trip that had started out in Atlanta to see WBB vs GT, then to Jacksonville for a UofL Football bowl game, then to Raleigh for the game, a couple of day before New Year's eve.

    I remember the folks at Reynolds would not let us in early as members of the media. We entered when they opened the doors for the attendee, and by the time we figured out where the media room was, all the media food was gone. J remember NCST had a rea nive WBB Sid at the time, though ,and he got us vouchers for the concession stand.

    Our media seats wer on the floor, in the end zone next to the UofL bench. We came out on fire against the Pack and had like a 20+ plus point lead before NCST even hit a basket. I also remember Sam Purcell running up to me during a timeout and asking if I could use my ink pen, his had quit. (I got his working eventually) but he kept mine a gag gift a few days later, I brought hi a dozen ink pens that were out of ink...

    NCST came back after that bad start and got close in the fourth quarter before the Cards held on to win. Our big stars back then were Durr and Hines-Allen. Cunane was not at NCST yet but Kiara Leslie was NCST's major force.

    I remember how loud that crowd got during the NCCST come back beginning in the third quarter. I also remember Wes Moore barely acknowledging Louisville's effort in his post game remarks and going on and on about how his Pac had almost knocked off the undefeated Cardinals/

    Yes, Louisville went into that game undefeated.

    Sonja and I drove to Haw River that afternoon after the game and dined with relatives an then spent New Years Eve at a Mexican restaurant in Burlington that has since closed with one of my cousins and his wife. Yje next day, we visited y dad's grave in Haw River and drove home on New Years Day.

    Quite a trip.

    I wish I could be in Reynolds tonight for what looks like it could be a doozy of a game...I think I WOULD HAVE FLOWN THIS TIME INSTEAD OF DRIVING, those eight-hour trips to Carolina in a car aren't exactly enjoyable and coming back is even worse.


  8. Great story on your trip Paulie! I went to a Louisville vs NCST football game in Raleigh years ago and our bus got pulled over outside of Raleigh for speeding. That was the last time I was in the fine state of North Carolina.

    Let's hope we can get the win. All the chatter is about how NC State is the best team in WBB ACC and how Cunane is the probable MVP of the league. Let's go down there and shut them up!

    Curtis "Be Kind" Franklin

  9. Hello Friends !
    Arthur Here !

    Well, well. a big one tonight for the Cards against Wes Moore and his pack of Wolves. I'll be watching this one, as well as checking in from time to time to see how bad Jen Hoover and her Deacs are beating up on my Tigers up in Winston Salem.

    We've dropped seven in a row now, five in conference. since beating Wofford. The Wolfpack beat us by 27 at Littlejohn back on Dec 30th. Diamond Johnson and Jada Boyd were the two Wolfpack that stood out to me that night. NC State jumped on us early, none of their players saw 30 minutes against us and I think Cunane only played 10 minutes or so against us.

    We played freshman Madi Ott at guard a lot in that one
    and she had 15 or so against them. She hasn't done much since then for us.

    This guy (and Bea) will be cheering for you all to knock off that cry baby Wes Moore and his Pack. I still don't think Cunane is even the best center in the ACC (I like Kitley up at VT better) and beat those Raleigh gals !

    Paulie, I've been to Reynolds a few times, too, it's about a four hour drive from Greer, but mostly have made that trip for football. Actually saw us beat them in Raleigh years ago but it's probably been at least ten years ago. We had a good one named Stefhany Thomas back them, a girl from Argentina, who could really fill up the bucket.

    Your Friend
    # 1 Clemson Fan
    Greer, SC


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