By Sam Draut–
Mariya Moore was named to the all-ACC first team and was one of the University of Louisville women’s basketball team’s most consistent contributors throughout the regular season, but the sophomore fell into a slump during the ACC tournament.
The 6-foot forward shot 1 of 18 from the field and scored 11 points in Louisville’s two games in the conference tournament. Coach Jeff Walz sited Moore’s mental approach to her struggles after the 80-75 loss to Syracuse in the tournament’s semi-finals.
“When things don’t go well, she struggles. She just holds on to everything. If it’s a missed shot, she carries that to the next possession,” Walz said. “Those are things she’s just got to mentally get over.”
With nearly two weeks in between the ACC tournament and first round of the NCAA tournament, Moore was able to spend time working on her individual skills to breakout of the brief cold spell.
“I had to focus on if I’m not making shots I have to help my teammates,” Moore said. “During the break that we had, I got into the gym and put some shots up, worked on driving and defense, other aspects of the game.”
In practices and workouts, Moore made sure to get back on defense after missed shots and play a more well-rounded game. Walz believes Moore is “too good of a player to allow missed shots to affect everything she does.”
“It’s not about me, its about the team, in order for me to help them, I need to be in the right mind,” Moore said.
Moore appeared to be in the right state of mind in Louisville’s 87-60 first round win against Central Arkansas. She scored 16 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field while adding four rebounds and four assists. Moore has visited the free-throw line 48 more times than any other Cardinal this season, and against Central Arkansas, it was no different as she knocked down 7 of 8 shots from the charity stripe.
“She got to the free-throw line, that is one thing that she does well. She did some really good things,” Walz said.
“I was trying to help by rebounding, trying to help by passing, just seeing I could do scoring too, whether it was free-throws or layups, it made me feel better that I could help,” Moore said.
In the first quarter, Moore dished out three assists, pulled down two rebounds, made four free-throws and added a steal to get some momentum going for the rest of the game.
“She continued to play, instead of worrying about missing a shot or two, she played through it,” Walz said. “She ended up with four assists and two turnovers, she went to the offensive glass, she had three offensive rebounds. It was nice to see.”
With 1:44 left in the third quarter, Moore hit a 3-pointer near the top of the key, her first made basket behind the arc since Feb. 28. Walz said it was important for Moore to see a 3-pointer go in. She has made a team-high 75 3-pointers this season.
Along with Walz, Moore was glad to see the 3-point attempt drop.
“I was like ‘finally, thank god,'” Moore said. “He (Walz) thought it was the biggest thing ever, but I was like ‘okay, now I know I can make a shot.'”
After the dominant first round win, Louisville has less than 48 hours to prepare for six-seeded DePaul on Sunday. Walz was critical of his team’s defense in the rout, and said the team needs Moore to play well defensively too.
“We can’t stand and watch, we have to be able to jump to the ball whenever they pass and cut,” Moore said.
With one full day to prepare, Moore said the team will focus on scouting reports and learn exactly what each opposing play can do on the floor.
Photo by Wade Morgen / The Louisville Cardinal