By Sam Draut
Louisville cruised to a 73-47 victory over LSU on Sunday to advance to the Elite Eight.
Shoni Schimmel led Cardinal scorers with 19 points and added six assists. Tia Gibbs hit five three pointers, finishing with 15 points and five rebounds. The two seniors combined for eight of the Cardinals season-high 12 three-pointers.
“When Tia Gibbs gives you 15 points in 16 minutes off the bench it is pretty special,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said.
The seventh-seeded Tigers were limited to playing just eight players due to injuries, while Louisville’s bench outscored LSU’s reserves 28-0. In three NCAA tournament games, Louisville’s bench has outscored opponents 84-2.
‘‘They did all that they could consider, and our bench, they came in and they tried their best,’’ LSU coach Nikki Caldwell. ‘’I’m proud of them for that. We didn’t execute as well as we wanted to.”
Antonita Slaughter scored 10 points. Asia Taylor pulled down 10 rebounds and added 7 points.
LSU (21-13) held a 12-11 lead through the first eight minutes of the game, but Louisville (33-4) closed the half on an extended 30-11 run, giving them a comfortable 41-23 halftime lead.
During the run, Gibbs connected with two threes on back-to-back possessions.
“I was trying to provide a spark to the team. Coming off the bench, that is our job,” Gibbs said. “My teammates did a great job looking for me.”
LSU was led by sophomore guard Danielle Ballard, who finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds. She had 12 of the Tigers 24 field goals. Minus Ballard, LSU was just 4 of 42 from the field.
“We had a hard time containing her, but I thought we did a good job on the rest of their players,” Walz said.
Taylor and Sara Hammond were able to slow the post presence of Theresa Plaisance, who scored seven points on 1-of-13 shooting, well below her season average of 15.3 points per game.
Hammond was limited to 16 minutes because of foul trouble, but had five points and eight rebounds.
“We have to get Sara going, we are running out of games,” Walz said. “She is in a little bit of a slump, but I would be shocked if she had three games where she struggled on the offensive end of the floor.”
Through three NCAA tournament games, the Cardinals have outscored their opponents by 46, 30, and 26 respectively.
‘’I think we’re playing really good basketball right now,’’ Walz said.
“We don’t play the score. We won’t let up on people. We know there is a lot we still have to work on,” Gibbs said.
Louisville will play fourth-seeded Maryland on Tuesday night at the KFC YUM! Center for a trip to the Final Four.
Walz spent five seasons at Maryland under the direction of Terrapin coach Brenda Frese before coming to Louisville.
“We know we are going to have our hands full. They are a very talented basketball team, they have great size,” Walz said. “We know what is at stake.”