By Sam Draut
The number four University of Louisville women’s basketball team fell to number seven Kentucky 69-64 Sunday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington.
Shoni Schimmel led U of L with 17 points and seven rebounds while junior Sara Hammond finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. Forward Asia Taylor contributed with ten points and six rebounds.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 21-7 lead through the first nine minutes in the first half and took a 36-27 lead into halftime.
“I thought we did a great job in the first half. We controlled the boards. We controlled the tempo of the game. We played it exactly how we wanted it to be played. I was really proud of them,” U of L head coach Jeff Walz said.
It was a tale of two halves for the 7-1 Cardinals, as they committed 10 turnovers and were outrebounded 26-21 in the second half. The 8-0 Wildcats outscored U of L 42-28 in the second half.
“We come out in the second half and missed a lot of point-blank shots you normally don’t miss. Then, we started to give up offensive rebounds because we started to get frustrated,” Walz said.
U of L opened the second half missing their first nine shots and shot just 27.8 percent from the field in the second half.
Kentucky’s leading scorer DeNesha Stallworth had 15 of her 16 points in the second half and also tied with Samarie Walker with a game high eight rebounds.
“She did a much better job in the second half of attacking the glass. She got the opportunities close by,” Walz said. “She’s a big time player. There’s no question about it. But I think her willingness to go to the offensive glass in the second half is what got them going.”
With 9:42 left in the second half, Bernisha Pinkett connected with her second three in a 75 second span to give Kentucky a six point lead, their largest of the game to that point.
“This was not my first year being in a big game. I knew when I got in, whatever he needed me to do I had to be ready; whether it was getting a stop on defense, getting a rebound, or making a three,” Pinkett said. “It so happened to be me being down and ready for the kick out for the three. I was just saying when I get this ball, put your elbow in, knock it down and get back on defense.”
Hammond’s two made free throws at the 6:28 mark tied the game at 55-55 and the game remained a one or two possession game until Kentucky guard Jennifer O’Neill’s jumper with 41 seconds left gave the Wildcats a six point lead.
Stallworth closed the game out with two made free throws, giving Kentucky its third straight victory in the rivalry.
“We wanted to win this game, we were prepared and we worked hard to win this game and we just came up short. We learned a lot from this game and we’re going to move forward,” Taylor said.
Louisville looks to bounce back Tuesday night against Missouri State at the KFC YUM! Center.