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Women advance with opening round win over Idaho

By Sam Draut

The University of Louisville Women’s basketball team opened up the first round of the NCAA tournament with a commanding 88-42 victory over Idaho.

Louisville, 31-4, was led by Sara Hammond, who was one of five Cardinals to score in double figures.  The junior forward finished with 16 points on 8 of 13 shooting.

Idaho, 25-9, played Louisville close through the first eight and a half minutes trailing 12-11, but Louisville responded with a 14-2 run, sparked by six points from senior guard Shoni Schimmel.  She finished the game with ten points and 11 rebounds.

“The first four minutes I thought offensively we just rushed. We never got the ball reversed. We were just trying so hard to make things happen. Then we finally slowed down, we worked the ball around,” coach Jeff Walz said.

Junior guard Jude Schimmel also contributed to the burst, scoring nine points in the first half, ending the game with 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting, and adding four assists and three steals.

“Jude is our spark coming off the bench. I think everybody on our team knows that. At the beginning we were kind of a little flustered,” Hammond said. “We were a little too excited to get out there and play. Jude came in and set the tone on defense. I think that’s what started our run.”

After leading 40-21 at halftime, Louisville extended their lead to 63-30 when Tia Gibbs connected on a three with eights minutes into the second half.

Louisville shot 71 percent from the field in the second half.

After missing the run to the National Championship game last season due to injury, Gibbs and Asia Taylor returned to the NCAA tournament.

Gibbs had seven points, four rebounds, and three steals.

Taylor finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Fellow senior Antonita Slaughter connected on all three of her three point attempts, finishing with 11 points.

Stacey Barr, the Western Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year was held to four points on 1 of 7 shooting.  Barr averaged 17.9 points per game.

Third seeded Louisville plays the six seed Iowa on Tuesday night.

“We’re looking forward to it. We’re excited to play every game. Regardless of who we get, we’re going to be prepared mentally and physically,” Shoni Schimmel said. “Today’s game, we got it under our belt. We got the flow of everything. We’re ready to continue and keep playing.”

Photo by Austin Lassell

Women’s basketball falls to top ranked UConn 81-64

By Sam Draut


Geno Auriema and UConn have had Louisville’s number.  The trend continued Sunday in Storrs, Connecticut when the top ranked Huskies defeated the fourth ranked Cardinals 81-64.

UConn forward Breanna Stewart scored 24 points and added ten rebounds to help the Huskies cruise to their 31st consecutive victory.

“She’s a special player. I told our players there is no question that she is the best player in the country in my opinion. What she does is when you have breakdowns, she makes you pay for them,” U of L head coach Jeff Walz said.

Louisville (23-2), stayed competitive through the first twenty minutes, trailing 44-33 at halftime.

Tia Gibbs connected with a three pointer at the 15:36 mark in the second half, trimming the Huskie lead to 47-40, but Stewart responded with a three pointer and a layup of her own to spark a 16-5 run that put the game out of reach.

“She can make big shots in big moments that other players can’t make,” Auriema said.

Asia Taylor finished with 18 points and eight rebounds while Sara Hammond scored 11 points and pulled down six rebounds.

Shoni Schimmel struggled to find a rhythm throughout the game as UConn denied her the ball a majority of the game.  Schimmel was 4 of 15 from the field and finished with nine points and six rebounds.

Collectively, Louisville couldn’t get in sync offensively, shooting just 29.4 percent in the second half.

“You have to play a perfect game. It’s an absolute battle. You’ve got to have 40 minutes of mentally tough basketball,” Walz said.

All five of UConn’s starters scored in double digits.

“Anybody can score. So they are a hard team to guard when they do what they do best, which is score,” Schimmel said.

Louisville starting point guard Bria Smith missed her second consecutive game due to tendinitis in her knees.

The Cardinals will face the Huskies again at the KFC YUM! Center on March 9.  Connecticut has won the past 14 of 15 meetings against Louisville.

“I think we are going to learn a lot from each time we play them. Like tonight, we did a lot of good things, but there are some things we need to learn from,” Schimmel said.  “For us, we can learn from each game which is only going to help us.”

Louisville’s next game is against Temple on Wednesday at the KFC YUM! Center.