By Sam Draut–

The No. 9 University of Louisville women’s basketball team defeated No. 15 Texas A&M 47-45 Friday night in front of a crowd of 10,896 at the KFC YUM! Center.

Jude Schimmel had the game winning lay-up after stealing an inbounds pass with 24 seconds left.

Sophomore Sara Hammond led the Cardinals with a career high 20 points, 15 of which came in the first half.  Hammond also finished with 13 rebounds while going up against All American Texas A&M center Kelsey Bone.

“I was hyped it was the first game of the season.  I was just going to go out and play my game because coaches told me I put in my time this summer and worked hard,” Hammond said.

Following a timeout with 34 seconds left, Texas A&M freshman Courtney Walker tried to force an inbounds pass to point guard Alexia Standish.  Schimmel was able to reach in front of the pass near midcourt and finish with a layup to give the Cards a two-point lead.

“The biggest thing was I knew we needed a stop and I read it perfectly.  They were trying to get it to the point guard, and it just so happens I was there,” Schimmel said, who finished with four points and two assists.

Bone missed a contest layup on the ensuing possession, but Hammond grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 8.8 seconds left.

Texas A&M struggled in the first half, and at one point U of L had a 27-13 lead and went into half up 31-21.  Fifth-year senior Monique Reid provided a spark in the first half, scoring six points; she finished with 10 points in 13 minutes.  She missed most of the 2011-12 season due to knee surgery, which she is still rehabbing.

In the second half, U of L stretched out to a 37-23 lead with 15:34 left, but Texas A&M went on a 21-4 run to give them a 44-41 lead with 4:13 left in the game.  A&M was able to stay in the ball game because of 10 Cardinal turnovers in the first 13 minutes after halftime.

Sophomore guard Bria Smith hit a free throw to tie the game at 45 with 2:10 left, but then missed two free throws with 1:17 left.  Smith finished with three points and three rebounds.

U of L was 3-9 from the free throw, but was aided by 23 Aggie turnovers.

“At the end, they were missing shots, and we were throwing it away, we had a chance to win the game but four turnovers in our last five possessions, that’s what hurts,” Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair said.

It’s a big win for U of L, as Texas A&M was the 2011 NCAA National Champions and also defeated the Cards 76-58 in College Station last year.

“It’s a very big win, they’re all big wins, to start off the season playing a top 15-team,” said U of L head coach Jeff Walz. “We’re a program here, we aren’t one player, and I think that showed tonight.”

Junior guard Shoni Schimmel had eight points and four assists, hitting two three pointers in the first half.  Shawnta’ Dyer had two points, and six Cardinals scored in the game.

“We’re maturing, we’re growing.  I think last year in tough situations, we might not have broken down but we always looked to Shoni to make a play, and we still do because she’s a playmaker, but Jude, her confidence is sky high right now and her getting that steal and score to seal the game shows a lot because we can go to other people this year.  We’re maturing and we have experience now,” Hammond said.

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Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal