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Monday, January 15, 2024


Cards Remain Undefeated in ACC

After a less than stellar first quarter, which Olivia Cochran attributed postgame to low energy by the team all week long, Louisville broke the game open in the second and went on to beat Wake Forest 83-62. On a day that saw Florida State knock off Virginia Tech in Tallahassee, Louisville's win moves them to the top step all alone as the only undefeated team in the ACC. As Cochran, Nyla Harris, and Jeff Walz all agreed after the game: any team can have your number on any given night in this league. The Cards will learn from today's win and look to stay atop their new perch.

As I mentioned, Louisville's start was rather sluggish. The Cards got off to what looked like a fast start, with O scoring the game's first points just ten seconds in. A Wake Forest miss prompted Daryl to lean over and suggest Louisville may jump out to a 10-0 lead as they did in the last game. I was less convinced, seeing as the Deacs appeared to reach the basket quite simply despite the miss. Sydney Taylor was sent to the line on Louisville's second possession and hit one of two free throws. Misses bookended the Cards' 11 free throws in the first half as they made nine in a row starting with Taylor's second. 

As it turned out, I was right about Louisville's inability to repeat their previous game's start. Cochran made two free throws after a Wake jumper before the Demon Deacons' first three of the game tied it at five. It seemed a bit of a sloppy start defensively, but the Cards seemed to turn it around with a steal leading to a fast break layup followed by a forced bad shot at the end of the shot clock. Unfortunately, that wasn't quite the case. Wake Forest kept at it, heading to the line for six free throws (hitting all of them) and shooting 3-8 from behind the arc (2-3 inside it) to finish with 19 points. The Cards could force just five turnovers, equaling the number they committed, and scored only 20 points of their own. The quarter ended rather unfortunately, with Louisville looking to score the last basket of the stanza to go up by six or seven and instead giving up a steal that led to a buzzer beating three at the other end. The shot was quite ugly, and banked in, but it was well before the clock hit zero. The real question was whether or not the shooter's foot was on the line, and the refs headed to the monitor. With it being called a three on the floor, the replay couldn't overturn it and the quarter ended 20-19.

The second quarter was the one Walz said he'd like the team to find more consistently. It was one like the fourth quarter of the Pitt game, and it put the game rather out of reach. Louisville improved on their 5/12 shooting with a 9/16 performance, knocking down three 3s and turned it over just twice. Defensively, the effort was much better as well. Wake took just two free throws and shot just 3-11 from the floor and was 0-4 from beyond the arc. The Cards forced seven turnovers and won the quarter 26-8. Honestly, there isn't much more to say about the second. Louisville dominated the quarter the way they should have dominated the game. It was fun to watch and the team clearly fed off the crowd's energy. A 46-27 halftime score looked much more impressive than the score at the quarter break. 

Louisville returned somewhere to the middle in the third quarter. They once more scored 20 points, matching the first quarter mark, but allowed Wake to find a bit more offense with 14. The Demon Deacons shot an even 40% from the floor and behind the three-point line, while Louisville shot over 50% for the second quarter in a row. The Cards were 2-2 from three, but slipped a bit from the free throw line with just a 4-7 performance. Louisville's lead was never really threatened, as the closest Wake could get was within 16 points. The Cards pushed that lead to its peak on a bit of a goofy play. 

As the clock ticked down, Louisville's pep band initiated a fake countdown to throw off the Wake offense. As the band got down below five, Jayda Curry slipped the ball from Wake's Kaia Harrison. With momentum on their side, the band didn't quite stop counting. In their efforts to confuse Wake, the band appeared to confuse Curry as she launched a shot from midcourt and the band shouted one. I feel quite confident that Curry may have been a bit irritated when she looked up to follow the ball to see four seconds remaining on the clock. Walz later said that Curry has been putting in the work in the gym to get up shots and when you put the work in in the gym, sometimes that work pays off with luck going your way. Such was the case as the ball went in to give Louisville a 25-point lead heading into the fourth.

The fourth quarter was one to forget. It prompted notes from both Nyla Harris and Jeff Walz in their post game comments about not letting mistakes snowball. Walz worked to get the bench more minutes, causing -22.5 bettors to sweat all the way to their loss. Hennie van Schaik returned to the floor with six minutes played in the fourth quarter. While those minutes looked to start off great with a block/steal, they soured immediately as she threw the ball immediately to the lagging Wake defender. The turnover was the first of six for Louisville in the fourth quarter. They entered that fourth quarter with just 10 in the game. Walz noted after the game that there are some turnovers you just have to live with. He specifically called out a travel that came after an offensive rebound amidst three defenders. The only way to avoid that turnover is to not get the offensive rebound, which isn't something he wants to coach. Those kinds of turnovers are ok. The kind that opened the fourth quarter and was repeated twice later in the quarter are not.

Louisville still shot 47% from the floor in the fourth and were 2-3 from three (including Elif Istanbulluoglu's second three of the year). However, Wake's shooting was made simpler with Louisville's turnovers and they were 53% from the floor. They had just two turnovers in the quarter and outscored the Cards 21-17. Walz appeared ok with the result, despite the turnovers, as he was able to get quality time for more players. Every player dressed played with HVS totaling the fewest minutes. Alexia Mobley was the only other player with single digit minutes, finishing with nine. Everyone else played at least 17 minutes. That kind of court time is invaluable with the team still working to find themselves and build on their cohesion. Olivia reminded us after the game that they were just getting started and we would see plenty more as they continued to gel. 

In the end, a 21-point win is nothing to shrug at. Louisville was balanced offensively once more, with six players in double figures. Rebounds were spread out as well, with all but one player snagging at least one board and no player grabbing more than five. Jayda Curry and Olivia Cochran led the team with 12 points apiece, while Taylor scored 11 and Harris, Kiki Jefferson, and Merissah Russell all added 10. Elif put up nine of her own. Notably, Harris was 5-5 from the floor and Cochran and Jefferson were a combined 10-10 from the line. 

A game recap isn't complete without a FRED Report, though I'll spare you the CASE Report this time. 

F - Free Throws: Despite a hot start in this category, sitting at 9-10 at one point, Louisville hit just five of their remaining ten foul shots, finishing 14-20. That's 70%, good for a lowercase f. 

The CC Crew's execution wasn't lacking.
This picture took significant effort
due to the commitment of the refs
and/or cheerleaders to prevent
it by getting in the way.
R - Rebounds: Louisville had a size advantage in this game, but it didn't exactly show on the boards. Louisville had a three-rebound advantage in each half, and they were outscored in second chance points despite pulling down more offensive rebounds. I'll still award a lowercase r for a six-board win, but I'll note that I contested it internally.

E - Effort/Execution: Sixteen turnovers isn't great. Even with the ones Walz noted are livable, you'd like to see the number come down, especially with the lapses in the fourth quarter. However, after the slow start to the game, the Cards never seemed to be sleepwalking. They worked for loose balls and rebounds, even if they didn't pull them down or had slips on defense. I'll award a lowercase e here, with the caveat that it's based almost entirely on effort. The execution was lacking.

D - Defense: Wake scored 62 points, which isn't great, but 40 of those came in the first and fourth quarters. Louisville's defense was mercurial, sometimes looking stifling and others looking lost. The Demon Deacons shot 43% from the floor, and at least part of that was because Louisville players missed the scout. They and Walz both said so. For that reason, no letter

That's a final of f-r-e-_. Louisville will need to do better as they hit the road for games against Clemson and UNC. The bad thing is that it's a bit of a short turnaround to get the issues fixed. The good thing is that they're aware they need to fix them. Hopefully the Cards will take their off day to celebrate a win and being in the lead of the conference before locking in on Tuesday and Wednesday to hold that lead. Louisville is back in action Thursday night against Clemson on ACC Network Extra. Tip off is at 7PM.

Until next time, Go Cards!


  1. Hello Friends
    Arthur Here

    That's a nice win for you all. I have no idea on telling you what to expect out of my Tigers Thursday. We can look top 25 one night and lower third of the league the next. Should be a fun one

    Your Friend

  2. Cards take care of business second team getting stronger in game situation, they need to cut down the turnoversπŸ’― and silly mistakes.πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€πŸ€

  3. Clemson still a lower tier ACC foe, that does have a couple of good individual players. If Louisville takes care of business, they should be OK.


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