What slump? Mariya Moore lifts UofL women over Tennessee

Ciera Johnson maneuvers against Tennessee’s Mercedes Johnson for her only shot in the game. It was a good one, helping the University of Louisville to a 75-64 win in the second round game.

Mariya Moore had gotten into such a shooting slump of late she seemed to be avoiding shots altogether. Looking around for her teammates, taking shots only when she was there was no other choice.

Extra time in the gym reaped dividends for Mariya Moore and company.

Three-point shots? No way because as Coach Jeff Walz pointed out, Mariya had made only one 3-point in 21 attempts over the past five games. The coach urging her to get in the gym, to keep working on her shot, and keep on shooting. And she did, day after day over the last week or so.

Moore’s persistence reaped big dividends for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team Monday. She connected on seven of 10 field goal attempts, including five of five from behind the 3-point line, for 19 points.

Her newfound accuracy, when combined with 23 points from Asia Durr and 14 points from Myisha Hines-Allen, sparked the Cardinals to an important 75-64 win over Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA tournament. A crowd of 5,698 was on hand at the KFC Yum! Center.

A reporter said afterward that Mariya made a motion like she was putting pistols in a holster after another long 3-pointer.  “I was so happy because Coach always stresses how we need to get in the gym. After the ACC Tournament I’ve been in the gym as much as I can, so to finally see the hard work paying off … So I don’t even know what happened, really. I’m going to have to look at the replays, but it just came out.”

Jeff Walz’ team is moving on, contemplating another showdown against Baylor.

Walz added that she could have turn cartwheels as far as he was concerned. “As we keep telling them, shooters shoot,” he said. “What I did is I told her after we came back from the ACC Tournament, I’m like, Mariya, if you trust me with anything, when you shoot, follow your shot. Just run after it. Shoot it and go after it.

Asia Durr was thrilled after the win, which sent Tennessee home for the first time in the second round in 22 appearances in the NCAA tournament. 

“We didn’t know that, but they do have a great team. I was just so excited,” said Durr. “We fought hard. This was a great game. Our fans are so amazing and I’m so happy to be here.”

Myisha Hines-Allen came through her umpteenth double-double, pulling down 13 rebounds to going with 14 points. Pumping a fist, it seemed, only every other rebound. “I just kept telling myself one more stop, one more stop, and we’re going to be that much closer to a win,” she said.

“We were able to do it in front of an amazing crowd. The crowd was loud. When we were down, they were still with us, even when we were up, they were still with us. We were able to get this win not only for ourselves and for our confidence going into our next game, but for our fans as well.”

Asia Durr for 28, Louisville women rip North Carolina

Louisville Coach Jeff Walz sends a message to officials after Myisha Hines-Allen was pulled to the floor on a rebound in the second quarter. A technical foul was assessed to a North Carolina player. 

Always nice when the University of Louisville women’s basketball team coasts to a win over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.  Especially when the opponent is North Carolina and the score is 87-57.

The UofL women would start slow and finish going away before a crowd of 9,739 fans at the KFC Yum! Center on Sunday.  A “Pink Out” day for cancer awareness, with UofL wearing pink, UNC that Carolina blue, posing a challenge for at least one color blind observer.

Hines-Allen seems to be over whatever was slowing her down a few games ago.

The Cardinals getting some extra motivation in the second quarter when Myisha Hines-Allen was wrestled to the floor by UNC’s Alyssa Okoene. Both players getting up with fire in their eyes, their teammates restraining them. Technical foul called on Okoene, with the Cardinals scoring six quick points to claim a 34-21 lead at the intermission.

Another dominating performance by Asia Durr, scoring 10 points in the first half, a flurry of eight straight points in the third quarter, and a total of 28 points for the game. She keeps gaining confidence, improving her shot selection, and making it look so easy in some games.

Coach Jeff Walz seemed to most pleased with Durr’s four assists. “She’s improving other parts of her game,” he said. “She’s even more of a threat when she can find open teammates.”

Hines-Allen seems to be over whatever was slowing her down a few games ago, turning in another double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds. That’s her 12th double-double this season and the 24th in her three-year career at Louisville.

Only two more games remaining in the regular season, senior night at home against Virginia on Thursday, and a road game at Wake Forest next Sunday. The Cardinals are 23-6 overall and tied for fourth with N.C. State in the ACC with identical 10-4 conference records. N.C. State has the advantage if a tiebreaker is needed, virtue of a win over UofL.

Kylee Shook gets message, UofL women skate past Boston College

Apparently when Jeff Walz sends a message to a University of Louisville player, he wants to make sure the individual has time to consider the desired result. Just ask Kylee Shook who was benched quickly in the second half against Virginia Tech on Thursday.

Kylee Shook attacks the basket for two of her game-leading 14 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

So surprised when she had a wide open path to the basket, Kylee did an awkward ball fake, was called for traveling, and summoned to the bench. Done for the night, having to think about it the rest of the night and over the next three days.

Imagine her relief, then, when Walz tapped Shook as the starting forward the following Sunday. The coach appealing to her competitive edge, hoping she would react in a positive way, needing her to be a leader.

Shook would do just that, the young 6-foot-4 freshman responding with one of the best games in her career in a 68-43 win over Boston College before 9,306 fans at the KFC Yum! Center. She would make six of 10 field goal attempts, including two of three 3-point shots, to lead all scorers with 14 points while pulling down five rebounds. 

No mishaps in this one, either, Shook with zero turnovers in 20 minutes of playing time. 

Before one gets carried away, however, it should be noted that Shook may have gotten the starting opportunity because Asia Durr, UofL’s leading scorer, was the one on the bench in this game.

All game long, with no explanation except for a “coach’s decision.” Nobody close to the team knowing anything, saying nothing, not even her. As Durr was leaving the floor, an elderly woman called out to her, “Hey, Asia, what did you do?”

“It’s okay,” replied Asia. “I’ll be back next game.”

Also of note, Mariya Moore did not return for the second half after making three turnovers and missing all six of her field goal attempts in the first 20 minutes.

More messaging? Or was it because she wasn’t needed? Myisha Hines-Allen, who had 10 points and 13 rebounds, saw only eight minutes in the second half. Regardless, they will have all week to think about it, UofL not playing until next Sunday when North Carolina arrives for a Noon tipoff. 

A long week ahead, plenty of time to let any object lessons sink in.

Super Hero Night at the KFC Yum! Center

 Thursday’s women’s basketball game between the University of Louisville and North Carolina State was Super Heroes Night at the KFC Yum! Center. The event attracted 8,251 fans, many of them dressed as their favorite comic strip characters.

Card Game photographer Cindy Rice Shelton was on hand, capturing many of the fans on digital, along with some game action.  UofL could have used some heroic action on the court, falling short 72-70 in overtime. Click on an image below to begin a slide show:

Too many ‘My bads,’ Louisville women fall to NC State

Kenna Harke, a member of the UofL Ladybirds, arrived with a Batman mask on Super Heroes night at the KFC Yum! Center.  A crowd of 8,251 was in attendance.

“My fault.”

Jeff Walz said those are the two favorite words in the collective vocabulary of the University of Louisville women’s basketball team after losing a 72-70 decision in overtime to North Carolina State Thursday.

Closely behind would have to be”My bad,” with players willing to take the blame when things go badly. “We just had too many breakdowns,” he said. “Pretty soon our kids are going to have to realize that every possession matters. It’s not just one, it’s a variety of players. 

“We’ve got to get past ‘my fault’ and ‘my bad’ and getting it done,” he continued. “A lot of getting lost on defense, breaking down at crunch time.”

Never mind that UofL’s Myisha Hines-Allen was missing in action with an undisclosed knee injury, Walz expected the remaining players to fill the void left by last season’s player of the year in the ACC.

NC State, which failed to make the NCAA tournament last year after a late season loss to UofL, was eager to avenge that loss. “That loss may have kept them out of the tournament,” said Walz. “They came in hungry.

The Wolfpack was not going to go away even after UofL raced to 24-10 lead in the first quarter,. They  had cut it to three points at the half and led by seven points after the third quarter. A couple of free throws by Asia Durr enabled the Cardinals to even the score at 61-61 to go into overtime.

UofL would miss three shots on one offensive series during the opening minute of overtime, two of them seemingly wide open. “We had some great looks in overtime but couldn’t convert,” he said. “It’s another heartbreaker for us, another loss to a top 15 team.”

The fatal blow was a last second jump shot by NC State’s Miah Spencer. 

No complaints from the coach about turnovers, UofL had only eight of them. There’s no category for wide open shots on the stat sheets but Louisville made only 22 of 68 field goal attempts.

Walz said he doesn’t know whether Hines-Allen will be available to participate in Monday night’s game at Notre Dame. UofL is now 20-5 overall and 7-3 in conference play.