By Sam Draut–
The No. 12 University of Louisville women’s basketball team defeated Georgetown 74-60 on Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center. The 19-4 Cardinals burst past the 13-9 Hoyas in the second half after leading by just four points at halftime.
Junior forward Antonita Slaughter led the Cards with 22 points off five three-pointers and also had seven rebounds. Slaughter is averaging 19 points over the past three games.
“Antonita has been playing the most consistent basketball of anybody on our team this entire season. She’s evolved her entire game. She’s not just a three pointer shooter anymore,” head coach Jeff Walz said.
Louisville faced a stark challenge in defending Georgetown guard Sugar Rodgers, who is the nation’s second leading scorer at 23.7 points per game. She was held to six points on 2-of-17 shooting.
Sophomore guards Bria Smith and Jude Schimmel and senior Shelby Harper defended Rodgers for most of the game.
“Our goal was to not let her score. Trying to make it as hard as we could on her, she’s a great player, she can score at will, and I thought in the first half we did a fantastic job on not giving her anything easy,” Walz said.
Despite playing only 23 minutes due to foul trouble, sophomore forward Sara Hammond finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, registering her fourth double-double of the season.
Junior guard Shoni Schimmel was 3-of-14 shooting from three, but finished with 15 points and seven assists.
The contributions from other players help Louisville to lead by more than 15 for a majority of the second half, even stretching the lead to 21 at the 6:41 mark.
Smith added four points and nine rebounds. Freshman guard Megan Deines had nine points, and Jude Schimmel had seven points.
“We have so many weapons, we don’t have to rely on one person,” Hammond said. “We’re so versatile, we can shoot the three, we can go inside, we have slashers, any given night anyone can have a great game, and that’s an advantage for us.”
After shooting 32.4 percent in the first half, the Cards came out shooting 63.6 percent in the first five minutes of the second half, extending the lead to 15.
“We just were getting out there and keeping the energy on our side, we were up a little bit, and came out with fire,” Shoni Schimmel said.
The Cardinals sit in third place of the Big East after reeling off five consecutive victories and winning seven of their last eight. Smarter play and cohesion have been the unambiguous reason for the streak.
“We’ve come together more as a team. The chemistry between us is what’s making us different,” Slaughter said.
“This is our fourth consecutive game with more assists than turnovers in the Big East, and we have never done that in my six years,” Walz said. “We’re playing a lot better basketball.”
Louisville dressed nine players on Saturday, injuries have left the Cardinals missing four players who have started games in their careers; sophomore Shawnta Dyer, junior Tia Gibbs, and seniors Asia Taylor and Monique Reid.
“With the people being hurt, you can’t really do anything besides let them heal, for us to go out there and take the nine we have and go out and play, do whatever we can,” Shoni Schimmel said.
“We’re learning to fight through it, and that’s what you have to learn to do. The scary thing for us is we are yet to have a game where everybody plays solid,” Walz said.
The Cardinals take on the Pitt Panthers Saturday, Feb. 9 at the KFC Yum! Center followed by a trip to No. 2 Notre Dame on Monday, Feb. 11.
Photos: Jessica Knebel/The Louisville Cardinal