By Dalton Ray —
Women’s basketball is headed to their third Final Four appearance after smothering Oregon State 76-43. The Cardinals cashed in 24 points off turnovers and held the Beavers to 35 percent shooting.
The Final Four will be held in Columbus, Ohio March 30 and April 1.
U of L led from start to finish in front of 6,000 fans in Rupp Arena. After the game, coach Jeff Walz took the microphone and thanked the crowd.
“I hope you all have your tickets to Columbus,” Walz said.
The one-seeded Cardinals received 18 points from junior Asia Durr and 16 points from senior Myisha Hines-Allen.
The Cardinals shot nearly 50 percent, but Hines-Allen said the defense was the difference.
“If we wanted to win, we had to stop them. They are phenomenal at shooting threes. They have a great post player, so it was going to come down to if you guys want to win, if you want to go to a Final Four, we have to get stops,” Hines-Allen said.
Louisville only committed three turnovers and Hines-Allen said they “cherished every possession.”
“We took care of the ball. We took shots that we normally take. We weren’t forcing anything,” Hines-Allen said.
Bothering the Beavers
Louisville’s hounding defense showed to be an issue for Oregon State as the Beavers went 3-for-11 in the opening quarter.
OSU held the height advantage, four starters over 6-foot, but Louisville used their speed to negate the advantage. Louisville used double teams when Oregon State went into the paint and flashing help when they drove.
U of L forced six turnovers in the first quarter and led 14-8.
Answering the bell
Oregon State, known for their 3-point ability, hit back-to-back threes at the beginning of the second. The buckets didn’t phase Durr, as she buried a pair of her own to extinguish the Beavers’ run.
OSU finished the second quarter making 4-of-5, but Louisville matched the scoring by going to the paint.
Durr scored 11 in the first half and the bench added nine as Louisville led 31-24.
Taking the wheel
Louisville used a string of plays in the third quarter to seize control, starting with back-to-back threes from Durr and redshirt junior Arica Carter. U of L bumped their lead to 19 behind six points off three consecutive steals.
Oregon State didn’t score in the last three minutes of the third quarter, allowing Louisville to take a 23-point lead into the fourth.
Louisville widened the gap in the fourth quarter, starting with a 6-0 run.
Oregon State appeared to be bothered by fatigue as their shots started to fall short of the rim during the fourth.
Louisville has yet to be challenged for a full 40 minutes in the tournament. U of L’s pace has helped them out-score teams 326-216.
“In the first quarter, first two, three minutes of the game, we could definitely tell how they’re going to play, how they’re going to guard us,” Durr said. “We definitely try to play a fast pace. We try to push the ball up the floor.”
Two indicators of Louisville’s pace are points off turnovers and fast break points. The Cardinals have a 73 points off turnovers and 45 fast break points in the tourney.
Offensive boards have also helped the Cardinals this postseason. In their four tournament games, Louisville has 43 offensive rebounds and 76 second chance points.
You can follow Dalton Ray on Twitter @dray5477.
Photos by Karen Nguyen / The Louisville Cardinal