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.”