8-0 Run In Final Two Minutes Pushes Cards Past Panthers
A lot of Cardinals fans I know assumed it would be a pretty easy and fun win over 0-5 in-conference Pittsburgh Sunday in the KFC YUM! Center.
Well, you know what happens when you assume.
I hope those people were a part of the 9218 in attendance today, because they got to see a exciting, nerve-wracking at times and come-from-behind UofL WBB win. The Cards "W" propelled them into a three-way tie for second place in the ACC standings.
Things looked a bit bleak when Pitt's Amber Brown nailed a jumper with 3:15 left in the fourth quarter to give the Panthers a 67-63 lead, but Cards guard CC Carr took a Morgan Jones pass 21 seconds later to cut the margin to one and get the Cards started on a game-ending 13-2 run. Pitt would see the lead just one more time, at 69-68 with 1:46 but Louisville would hit two of their three final shots and all three free-throws to finish the game, while Pitt would miss or have blocked their final five attempts. That occurrence happening much to the delight of Cards fans, I might add, who got VERY loud during that UofL run.
To get to that point, though, Louisville had to find a way to overcome Pittsburgh's potentially best effort this season. It was obvious, from the get-go, that Lance White's squad wasn't here just to pay homage to the Cards 2013 class that was honored at half-time
The first quarter was pretty-evenly played until UP's Liatu King broke a 10-10 tie with two free throws after 6:55 of play. A Pitt jumper, two free throws and three-pointer all contributed to Pitt building a 18-12 lead the rest of the way, while the Cards could only manage a Nyla Harris jumper in the paint,
It had looked, from the opening tip, that the Panthers weren't going to play docile or scared. They were having a pretty easy time getting the ball inside on UofL to score and that was about to continue.
Pitt started the second quarter on a 8-2 run and Louisville found themselves on the short end of a 26-14 score with six minutes until halftime. Louisville's shots weren't falling and Walz had reached pretty deeply into the bench by then and had a lineup of Norika Konno, Carr, Van Lith Jones and Russell on the court.
The Cards began a rally of sorts at that point...four straight made free throws, and a Carr three had trimmed the Panthers lead to 28-21 with three minutes until halftime. Pitt responded with a 4-0 run, though, and Dayshanette Harris' jumper rebuilt the lead to 11 at 32-21. Louisville was able to salvage a bit of momentum, closing the half on a 5-0 run on a Dixon jumper and Konno's first three of the night. 32-26 Pitt wasn't anything to excite the Cardinals' fanbase, but, it was a start in the right direction
|(Monique Reid and Shelby Harper at halftime re-union)
The halftime festivities featured a reunion of a lot of the 2013 National runner-up squad members. It was great to see Shawnta Dyer, Sherrone Vails, Sara (Hammond) Barnum, Tia Gibbs, Cortnee Walton, Monique Reid, Shelby Harper, Monny Niamke, Antonita Slaughter, Bria Smith and Megan Deines on the court again, some with kids and spouses.
|(Shelby Harper and daughter)
Only the Schimmel's and Asia Taylor were absent for the players and Taylor is currently playing in Puerto Rico, so her absence is explainable.
|(L to R: Megan Denes, Cortnee Walton and Monny Niamke)
Louisville regrouped at halftime and outscored the Panthers 50-37 in the second half. Let's look at now they did it.
A strong start to the third quarter benefitted the Cards and they outscored Pitt 12-6 in the first four minutes to tie things up at 38-38. The teams traded the lead back and forth a bit and found themselves tied up at 46-46 with 2:22 left in the quarter. Van Lith and Nyla Harris jumpers, plus a Van Lith three gave Louisville a 53-48 lead with 30 seconds left in the quarter and it looked like Louisville might be ready to assume control of this contest, winning the quarter 27-17 and leading 52-48. Van Lith had 11 of the Cards points in the quarter and Louisville went 5-7 from three-point range.
Louisville would build the lead to seven early in the fourth quarter after another Konno three made it 58-51 after a minute of play, but Pitt wasn't ready to get on the bus and leave just yet. The Panthers steadily cut into the Cardinals lead and a Maliyah Johnson layup tied things at 60-60, with 5:37 to play. .Pitt found a spurt of momentum and grabbed a four-point lead at 67-63 on a Amber Brown jumper with 3:15 left on the clock. They held the lead until the Cards closing 8-0 run we discussed earlier turned a 69-68 game into a 76-69 Cardinals win.
Louisville, in horse racing parlance, started the affair slowly, kept the leader in sight in the backstretch, led briefly but settled back... off the front runner's pace and then hit the top of the stretch in a battle for the lead before steadily pulling away.
THE FRED REPORT
|(Jared reads J Fred Muggs selected stories about the 2013 Cards WBB squad)
FREE THROWS -- 13 for 17 is 76.5% and we just ask for 70% to award a CAPITAL "F". Morgan Jones going 5-6 gets a nod of approval from us.
REBOUNDS -- We mentioned earlier that Pitt was pretty much having their way in the paint and the 40-35 rebounding edge backs that up. Dixon had nine for the Cards and Jones eight, but we cant award a letter.
EFFORT/EXECUTION -- After a horrid shooting start (7-28 and 25%) the Cards finally found te eye to finish at 25-64 (39%). 11 turnover is more than we'd like to see but 19 assists on 25 made baskets is top notch. The Cards won the second chance points battle 14-10 and got 2 bench points (11 from Konno) but we can offer just a small-case "e'
DEFENSE -- Pitt had a higher shooting percentage 42%, outscored Louisville 32-18 in the paint and Amber Brown torched the Cards for 20 points (or 29% of her team's output, but Louisville managed to shut the Panthers down in the most crucial part of the game...the final two minutes. Louisville has to do something about stopping teams from scoring inside, though, and I can only go with a small case "d".
FINAL FRED TALLY: F-_-e-d
The Cards go on the road for the next two, next week, and thy foes look to be a couple of very challenging ones in Virginia Tech and FSU. Both lost Sunday, though....FSU to Boston College and Virginia Tech to Miami, so "bizarro world" in the ACC escalates and thrives. Louisville is quite liable to run into a couple of teams seeking a bit of payback and wins, so let's hope the Cards don't start (or finish) slowly. .
Ah, the joys and intricacies of the ACC, right?
(PHOTOS BY JARED ANDERSON)
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