Top ten ranked women’s basketball sits on only one loss

By on January 12, 2015

By Sam Draut–

Although printed publication halted for winter break, Louisville women’s basketball team continued on their journey in their inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. We will take a look back at the three weeks of competition over the break.

Louisville traveled to the West Coast as the break began to face Grand Canyon and No. 24 California.

The 65-51 victory over Grand Canyon was a homecoming game for junior forward Cortnee Walton. After missing the first 10 games of the season with a broken toe, Walton made her first career start in front of a few hundred friends and family. She finished with four points and five rebounds.

Louisville head coach Jeff Walz is debating on redshirting Walton because of the toe injury.

“The bone just hasn’t healed correctly yet, it’s not completely healed and we need to see if she can play,” Walz said. “We don’t want to just have a season where she plays one game and can’t practice for five or six days and hopefully tries to play next, so we don’t want to waste this year.”

Over her four games after returning, Walton has averaged 13 minutes, 3.5 points and rebounds.

After a 73-51 victory over Evansville, Louisville entered in ACC play after spending a season in the American Athletic Conference.

“Everybody kind of blows some things out of proportion if you’re in a new league. It’s still basketball, we still shoot on the same hoops. It’s more so of learning personnel, trying to get tendencies down of players,” Walz said.

“We played in the Big East and we had some great teams in that league, so we’re prepared for this. Now it’s a matter of just every single night,” Walz said. “This will test our kids really quick to see how mentally strong we are, especially our freshmen.”

In its opening conference game, Louisville defeated Georgia Tech 75-48.

The Cardinals turned around two days later to beat Pittsburgh 63-57 in a hard fought comeback victory.

Louisville continued their success on the road on Sunday defeating Wake Forest 79-68. The Cardinals now sit at 15-1 and 3-0 in the ACC.

As the season has gone along, the Cardinals have seen an uptick in assists because they are sharing the ball better.

“I think that’s always our goal. Just hit the open person and obviously hit the person who’s making the shots,” Jude Schimmel said.

Against Georgia Tech, Louisville had a season-high 22 assists led by freshman Mariya Moore who finished with a team-high eight assists.

At some points, it has led to overpassing, but Walz likes that he has an unselfish team.

“We pass it too much, and instead of taking a five footer, we try to jam it to someone for a two-footer, well it turns into a turnover,” Walz said. “It’s a good problem to have in some ways because your team is unselfish, but we’ve got to make sure we show them on film, these are shots you have to take.”

After a slow start to her senior year, Schimmel has shot the ball better while stuffing the stat box.

Over a six game stretch, the starting point guard averaged 10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists. Schimmel also leads the team with 39 steals.

“That’s what a good point guard does. It’s not always a matter of what you score,” Walz said. “That’s the way we need for her to play for us to be successful.”

Freshmen Moore and Myisha Hines-Allen lead the team in scoring with 13.6 and 12.2 points per game, respectively.

The two former McDonalds All Americans have had a huge impact, while assuming a starting role on a roster comprised of five seniors.

Moore has been the Cardinals top perimeter threat, knocking down 25 three-pointers and also leads the team with 55 assists.

“I think she is a special player and has proven that by playing on the USA U-17 team, being a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school. I think us as a team – when she came in, she had high expectations for herself and she has lived up for that. She has gone beyond what coaches have expected of her as a freshman, having to count on her to be the best 3-point shooter or come out and score 12 to 14 points a night,” Sara Hammond said. “She’s becoming mentally and physically tougher. At the beginning, she didn’t really like all of the running that we have to do, but now she doesn’t really think about it. She sprints up and down the floor so I’m really proud of her and how far she has come.”

Hines-Allen has been strong around the rim, shooting a team 54.8 percent from the field and adds 5.1 rebounds per game.

“She has a chance to be a special basketball player if I can get her to run,” Walz said.

Not to be out done by two freshmen, seniors Sara Hammond and Bria Smith have started all 16 games in their final season as Cardinals.

Smith has averaged 10.7 points and 5.1 rebounds and is second on the team with 53 assists. In late November, she registered the first Cardinal triple-double since Angel McCoughtry did it in 2008.

Hammond is the vocal leader of a team with five freshmen. She is averaging 10.6 points and a team leading 6.1 rebounds per game. Hammond also leads the team with 17 blocked shots.

In its inaugural season in the ACC, Louisville will face ranked opponents Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse in their conference schedule.

Photo by Austin Lassell / The Louisville Cardinal 

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