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Saturday, March 19, 2022

WBB Rolls Albany; Softball Starts ACC 1-0; All-American Albiero -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Cards Use Big Second Quarter to Coast to NCAA Opening Win

Louisville opened their NCAA tournament run yesterday evening in a crowded Yum! Center (if the traffic on Main as I left work was any indication). Prior to their game against UAlbany, I'm sure the Nebraska and Gonzaga game was well attended as well, based on the shirts I saw out and about during lunch. After the Bulldogs took down the Huskers to determine who would await the winner of the 1/16 game on Sunday, Louisville left no doubt with a wire-to-wire victory in the evening matchup. Though the Cards would only win the second half by four, their hefty halftime lead was enough to keep this one well out of reach, as they ultimately won 83-51.

The Cards got on top of the Great Danes early, with Kianna Smith hitting her first three just six seconds into the game. Albany was able to keep it close for the first few minutes, thanks to a few empty possessions for the Cards, and ultimately got the score to 8-7 with 7:17 remaining. Louisville missed a shot on the next possession, giving Albany their first chance at a lead, but a turnover gave the Cards another chance to extend the lead, and they would go on to outscore the Danes 11-0 over the remainder of the quarter. 

Louisville scored the basket that made it 19-7 with 3:22 remaining in the first quarter. Olivia Cochran scored in the first minute of the second quarter to make it 21-7, but the Cards would go on another drought and allow Albany to close the gap to 21-16. Hailey Van Lith finally broke their run with 6:19 remaining in the half, and Louisville decided that they had had quite enough of this plucky Albany team. The final six minutes of the half saw a team that looked almost entirely unlike the one that played the rest of the game, as Louisville went on a 25-4 run to head into the locker room leading 48-20. 

After the break, it was mostly a matter of playing out the final 20 minutes. Neither team went on any big runs, and they mostly just traded baskets. Albany managed to win the third quarter, which I'm sure was less than ideal in the locker room after the game, but they never got the deficit any smaller than 25 points. The fourth was much of the same, though Louisville won the quarter and the half, thanks in part to three pointers made by Merissah Russel and Ramani Parker in the game's closing minutes. 

Van Lith's 20 points led all scorers in this one, and three other Cards (Emily Engstler, Kianna Smith, and Olivia Cochran) finished in double digits. Kayla Cooper finished with 14 for UAlbany, and Ellen Hahne had 11. With her 17 points, Engstler eclipsed the 1000-point mark in her career (obviously not all with Louisville), but she becomes the 33rd player to do it as a Cardinal and the second this season, with Kianna Smith accomplishing the feat in December.

As you might expect, Louisville won in nearly every statistical category, so let's have a look at the FRED and CASE Reports to make it official.

The FRED Report

F - Free Throws: Though I said they led nearly all categories, we, of course, have to start with the one they didn't. The Cards outscored the Danes at the line 11-7, but they left nearly as many points at the stripe as Albany scored. UAlbany was 7-7 in their chances, while Louisville was just 11-16. That's good for only 68.8%, which does not cross the threshold for a letter. No letter.

R - Rebounding: Louisville had a pretty significant size advantage, evidenced by their 44-24 win on points in the paint. With that said, the Cards managed to only win the rebounding battle 33-28. They did outrebound the Danes on both ends of the floor, limiting UAlbany to just ten second chance points, but I can only give a lowercase 'r' for a deficit that was much smaller than it should have been.

E - Effort/Execution: The long drought Louisville went on could be forgiven by the huge run in the second quarter, though the third quarter loss is unfortunate. HVL said after the game that the big gap in games (two weeks thanks to the Miami loss), impacted the team's sharpness, which is fair. Despite the scoring drought, Louisville managed to make more than half their shots and very nearly limited the turnovers to single digits. It'd be pretty harsh to award anything less than a capital 'E' for a 32-point victory.

D - Defense: Albany made a shade over 40% of their shots, but the Cards forced 26 turnovers and scored 37 points off of those turnovers. They included 18 steals and Louisville added four blocks while committing only nine fouls. Sounds like a capital 'D' defensive performance to me.

The CASE Report

C - Care: As I mentioned, Louisville committed almost single digit turnovers, as they finished with ten. That's far fewer than Albany's 26 and right at 62.5% of Albany's forced turnover average of 16. I can never remember quite what I set the bar at for that performance, so let's set a new standard of 70%. (That may be what I've done before, and also 70% seems like a nice number for this.) That gives Louisville a capital 'C'.

A - Assists: Though they kept the turnovers down, Louisville made a lot of unassisted baskets. The Cards hit 33 shots, but assisted on only 13 of those. That's not really close to a 50% assist rate, and the low number of assists renders the lower number of turnovers moot from an assist-to-turnover ratio perspective. This is one of those instances where ATO is usually a very telling stat, but every once in awhile, the game state just doesn't care about those two things in tandem. A 32-point win and 50%+ shooting yields no letter, oddly.

S - Steals: Louisville had more steals than they committed turnovers themselves. Need I say more? Capital 'S'.

E - Efficiency: I've already given away the secret about their shooting performance. Louisville was pretty daggone good from the floor. They finished 33-63, good for 52.4%. They also shot 37.5% from beyond the arc (6-16), but, as we mentioned, they fell short at the line. They'll earn a lowercase 'e', and hopefully they'll make the most of their opportunities for freebies going forward.

The Cards finished with final tallies of _-r-E-D and C-_-S-e, a mixed bag of results. They managed to win by 32, but it was in a 1/16 game on their home floor. It'd be quite disappointing had they done much less. Hopefully this was the game they needed to shake off the rust, and I think it was, based on the big run in the second quarter. I don't give much thought to the closeness of the second half, since Louisville already led by so many points.

The Cards are back in action Sunday, and their game against Gonzaga has officially been assigned a 7PM start time. It's a prime time slot with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. Tune in to ESPN all day, as the schedule of games has Maryland vs FGCU at 3, Texas vs Utah at 5, Louisville vs Gonzaga at 7, and Stanford vs Kansas closing the evening at 9.

After one day of games, Kenneth Stark Sr. leads the way in the bracket challenge with a 14-2 record, with Sonya hot on his heels at 13-3. We'll have a full report following the conclusion of the first round in tomorrow's article.

Softball Goes Yard in Comeback Win Over GT

It was a good evening to be out on the berm at Ulmer Stadium, as you could have come away with quite a few souvenirs. Louisville and Georgia Tech combined for six homeruns in the game, as Louisville completed a huge comeback to win their ACC opener 11-8.

Through the first three innings, this one was a pitchers' duel. The two teams combined for just one hit and one error and left two players on base each. Georgia Tech promptly opened the fourth inning with a HR-HR-Triple sequence and Chardonnay Harris was relieved by Gabby Holloway while remaining on the hook for a third earned run. A walk and an infield single loaded the bases, as the defense tried to keep the run from scoring. It was a short lived prevention, because the next batter singled through the middle to make it 3-0 and keep the bases loaded with nobody out. The Cards finally looked to an out with a fielders choice, but a run scored to make it 4-0 and everyone was safe. A strikeout gave Louisville one out with the bases still loaded, and Taylor Roby came in for Holloway to try to get out of the jam. Unfortunately, she wasn't quite warm, and a wild pitch scored a run, before a fielder's choice and a walk scored another. A strikeout stopped the bleeding at 6-0 and the Cards finally got out of the inning with a grounder to third base.

Louisville looked to put together a rally of their own in the bottom half, but they were cut short without scoring a run, as a groundout left runners on second and third. Louisville made their third pitching change of the game when they brought in Sam Booe to open the fifth inning. She gave up a walk and a hit to start the inning, but induced three straight groundouts to erase the mistakes. Louisville still trailed 6-0, but they at least prevented it from getting farther out of hand.

The Cards' bats finally woke up, starting in an unusual place in the order. Dylann Cravens singled from the 8-hole, and Jenna Servi followed suit to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Carmyn Greenwood was unable to capitalize with a flyout to left, but Korbe Otis sent a ball the same direction, just much farther. The homer gave Louisville life as they were now down just 6-3. Roby singled to bring up Kendall Smith, and she popped one to left center to give the Cards another pair of runs. At 6-5, with one out, the Cards were back in business. They followed the two home runs with a double and a walk, and looked poised to continue the rally, but a strikeout and a flyout ended the threat.

Despite her fairly straightforward inning, Booe was pulled after just the one, and Roby reentered the circle. The decision looked slightly questionable from the jump, as a single and a four-pitch walk put runners on first and second with nobody out. A strikeout preceded a sacrifice bunt, moving the runners to second and third, but another groundout got the Cards out of the inning with no added damage. They entered the bottom of the sixth, still trailing 6-5.

Servi struck out looking to open the inning, but Carmyn Greenwood tied the game with a solo shot. After that, Georgia Tech blinked and everything unraveled. The next four batters went error, walk, error, fielder's choice error, and the Cards had taken the lead 7-6 while keeping the bases loaded with one out. Vanessa Miller stepped into the box and punished the Jackets with an unearned Grand Slam. That's a tough one to swallow for the defense, but it gave the Cards an 11-6 lead they would not relinquish.

A double opened the top of the seventh, but a strikeout and a groundout put the doomsday clock on. Georgia Tech needed five runs to keep the game alive and they had just one out to work with. To their credit, they used a single, and error, and two walks to score a pair and load the bases with the go-ahead run at the plate. In one of the most deflating results, though, the GT batter kept the bat on her shoulder and watched a strikeout to end the game.

For those keeping track at home, Louisville had a team homerun cycle, scoring 1, 2, 3, and 4 runs via homerun in this one. They also hit their fourth grand slam in three games, and they've hit one in each of those three. The Cards and Yellow Jackets will be back in action today at 4PM, and the Cards will look to follow their conference opening game win with a conference opening series win.

Gabi Albiero Leads Swimming in NCAAs

The Louisville women's swimming team continued their strong performance in the NCAA Championships, and they currently sit in 8th overall entering the final day. The team has fifteen swimmers competing today, so there is plenty of opportunity to move up as they are within six points of sixth place. Gabi Albiero was the star for the team yesterday, as she earned All-American honors with a sixth place finish (hey, that sounds familiar) in the 100 Butterfly. In the event, she set a personal best and put up the third fastest time in school history. I would say "good luck" to anyone attempting to break that school record. Prelims for today's events begin at 10 with finals airing at 6PM.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

We're back this week with plenty to talk about. The NCAA tournament is in full swing, and the Cards have seen success (and some disappointment) over the past week in spring sports. We'll cover it all on this week's episode, with 4/5 in the booth. As always, you can check out the live stream of the show by going to the Cardinal Couple YouTube page and clicking on the live video. Jeff usually creates that about an hour before the show, which officially starts at 11 AM Eastern. If the live time doesn't work for you, there are plenty of playback options, so be sure to check out whichever is best for you!

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Until next time, Go Cards!


  1. Hailey looked great after the two week layoff and how about Parker and Russell hitting threes late!

    Bring on another set of hounds. We ran the Great Danes back across the bridge and hopefully we'll do the same with the Bulldogs Sunday night.

    10-6 in the Pick Em opening round for me. I stink.

    Nick O

    1. It's was great to see Parker & Russell get min.

  2. Sometimes, the assist to made shot ratio is affected by turnovers leading to layups.
    Gotta figure we had a lot of steals that led to layups.
    And, I called some "upsets" that weren't really upsets.
    Playing two brackets on ESPN'S challenge, one exactly like the one here, the other is perfect so far👌

  3. Missed two, Kentucky and Oregon.


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