By Matt Bradshaw —
No. 1 seed women’s basketball (32-3) has reached its second straight Elite Eight with a 61-44 win over No. 4 Oregon State (26-8). Louisville has now beat Oregon State in the NCAA tournament back-to-back years, as the Cards capitalized on defense and resilient offense for the win.
Senior Sam Fuehring wrote her name in the Louisville history books, scoring 17 for 1,002 points across her successful career. She added nine rebounds and two assists for a solid performance overall.
Senior Asia Durr scored 17 points with eight rebounds and four assists, facilitating the offense. Sophomore Dana Evans came off the bench for seven points. Junior Kylee Shook got the start in the paint and made the most of it, scoring five points with six rebounds.
“We’re really excited for the opportunity to still be playing. It’s not easy. It’s difficult. And it’s something we’re really proud of,” head coach Jeff Walz said. “Oregon State is a great basketball team. I’ve got the utmost respect for (head coach) Scott (Rueck). I’ve had the opportunity to be out at USA Basketball with him, I’ve watched him. He’s just a great tactician.”
The Cardinals shot out to a 14-3 lead, though the Beavers closed the gap before long. Oregon State played slightly better in the paint to offset Louisville’s three-point shooting. The score read 30-23 at halftime in the Cards’ favor.
Fuehring, who had only converted 11 three-pointers all year, knocked down three in the first half. Durr guided the offense with three assists and fellow senior Arica Carter looked good with six points.
Louisville played a rock solid third quarter on defense, holding Oregon State to just five points. The Beavers stayed close after that, but to no avail as the Cardinals won 61-44.
Though getting outrebounded at 41-33, the Cards stayed in front with 41 percent shooting from three-point range, a 26-22 advantage in the paint and 13-2 advantage in fast-break points.
Next up, Louisville faces its toughest challenge yet against No. 2 Connecticut (34-2) in the Elite Eight. The two play Sunday, March 31 at noon.
The Huskies will be out for revenge after losing to the Cardinals 78-69 during the regular season. Louisville needs to rebound and play even better in the paint than it did against Oregon State, if the team wants its best chance at beating UConn.
Unluckily, Louisville’s tournament run has been plagued by distracting rumors lately that Walz will leave the team following the season to become head coach at Tennessee. Whether or true or no, Walz has remained the professional and focused on the essentials of getting his Cardinals through the tournament.
“It happens every March,” Walz said. “I’m the head coach at the University of Louisville. Our kids are fired up. They’re excited to play. We know what’s at stake. We’ve been through this. We know everybody playing right now is really good. You’ve got to be dialed in, and I know these young women are.”
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File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal