By Daniel Rankin —
On Feb. 27, the No. 4 Louisville Women’s Basketball team won big against the No. 14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 86-64.
The contest made national headlines, with the Cardinals jumping out to a 41-3 lead in the second quarter. Louisville’s largest lead was 48-6 before Notre Dame finally strung together consecutive baskets.
The win allowed the Cardinals to finish the season 25-3 and 16-2 in the ACC.
Sophomore Guard Hailey Van Lith and senior Kianna Smith finished with an impressive 20 points. Seniors Emily Engstler and Chelsie Hall had 17 points and 13 points, respectively.
The Cardinals finished the game with 16 forced turnovers and an overwhelming 40-22 rebound advantage.
In the first quarter, Louisville was perfect, shooting lights out 7-7 from beyond the arc. It took the Cards almost five minutes before they missed their first game shot. The opening quarter ended with an astonishing 31-3 Louisville lead.
Despite multiple timeouts and substitutions from Notre Dame, nothing was stopping the Cards.
The second quarter saw the Louisville offense slow down to a ‘normal’ shooting performance, but the defense still had Notre Dame’s number.
By the time Notre Dame figured out how to score, the game was out of reach, with Louisville up 54-15 at halftime.
The Fighting Irish lived up to their name in the second half, including a 30-15 fourth quarter. But, the gap was too far for Notre Dame to mount a serious comeback.
Overall, it was an outstanding performance, especially considering Notre Dame is ranked No. 14 in the nation.
The defense has been elite all season for the Cardinals, arguably the best in the country. But the offense from time to time can go through some droughts.
While the second half wasn’t perfect, Sunday’s nationally televised game will make teams wish to avoid the Cards in their brackets come tournament time.
But with the regular season over, that time has now arrived.
A 23-win season is nothing to be resentful about, but the expectations for Coach Jeff Walz and his team are always high. After finishing second in the title race to NC State, the Cardinals will be eager to win the ACC Tournament Championship in Greensboro, N.C.
Louisville’s first game will be in the ACC Quarterfinals on Fri. Mar. 4 at 6 pm.
With tournament season upon us, stay tuned for more Women’s Basketball Coverage!
Photo by Daniel Rankin // The Louisville Cardinal