Walz flirts with ejection but gets Louisville women going

Jeff Walz objects to a call made by official Carla Fountain, resulting in a technical foul  against the University of Louisville coach (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Such a nice reprieve, commenting on one of the most positive things going on at the University of Louisville these days. Some 7,014 fans enjoying still another win by the UofL women’s basketball team.

Word from Las Vegas before the game, however, was that UofL was a 43-point favorite. Not what one wants to hear minutes before tipoff. Not conducive to an all-out effort.

Asia Durr finds the basket for two of her team-leading 15 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The Cardinals would struggle to shake a stubborn Clemson team ranked dead last in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Tigers entering the contest having won only one of 11 ACC games this season.

With UofL trailing 19-18 with a little over four minutes remaining in the first half, Coach Jeff Walz seemed to need a technical foul to get his team going. Walz didn’t take kindly to the technical, vigorously protesting the call, flirting with an ejection. Calming down in the nick of time.

The Cardinals would come to life, taking a 20-19 lead on a jumper by Arica Carter. They would put some distance between them, thanks to three straight field goals by Sam Fuehring. taking a 32-21 lead to the locker room at the intermission.

Asia Durr and Fuehring would capture scoring honors with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Jazmine Jones would add 10 points, along with three assists. Myisha Hines-Allen would have six points and four rebounds. 

A most encouraging night for sophomore Kylee Shook, getting 23 minutes of playing time. Making the most of every minute, earning the second double-double of her career with 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

The women are 25-1 overall, 11-1 in the ACC, hopefully getting the sluggishness out of the collective system before the showdown against top-ranked and undefeated UConn at Storrs, Conn. on Monday.

UConn still awaits Louisville women, special season or not

Sorry to see the 20-game win streak come to an end for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team. Such a great achievement, providing a distraction for a fan base needing a reprieve from an onslaught of bad news. A fan base that was believing this could be a special season.  

Jeff Walz has always said the goal is to win championships but UConn has always been an obstacle.

Indeed, the popularity of women’s basketball in Louisville was set to go through the roof. The Cardinals had attracted 12,614 for the game against Notre Dame last week and drew 14,248 against Florida State on Sunday.  They could have owned the town had they made one more basket.

Asking a lot, with the Cardinals making only 22 of 63 field goal attempts. Florida State’s shooting was even worse, connecting on only 19 of 68 shots. The Seminoles would stagger out of the KFC Yum! Center with the win. So motivated that they could overcame a dreadful shooting day on UofL’s home court.

The loss bringing the shocked and disappointed UofL women back down to earth, confirming Coach Jeff Walz’s belief that his team could ill afford to let off the gas. Having struggled to put a 9-10 Pittsburgh team away earlier in the week, he warned they needed to be more consistent.

The temptation for many UofL fans was to look ahead to the showdown at UConn on February 12. Wondering if this was the season when UofL could seriously challenge the Huskies. There was a growing chorus that Louisville had a great team, with Final Four potential, and was a possible national championship contender.

Explaining the big surge in attendance after averaging 6,000-plus for most of the season. In previous years, the Cardinals had averaged between 8,000 and 9,000 per game. Casual fans jumping back on the bandwagon,  believing UofL could possibly challenge UConn for once. 

The loss to Florida State a rude awakening, a realization that Louisville has to get better if it is to seriously challenge UConn, 18-0 and No. 1 in the latest Associated Press poll. They will meet February 12th at Hartford. UofL has lost 16 of 17 games against the Huskies, with their last win coming in 1993. UConn has pummeled the Cardinals by an average of 24.7 points in their last 10 meetings.

That was the game everybody was looking forward to, regardless of the one game-at-the-time mantra. A chance to finally challenge UConn, with one of Louisville’s best teams ever.

All they have proven thus far is that they can compete with the best and struggle against mediocre teams. No time to worry about UConn for now, not with  four road games at Miami, Virginia, Syracuse, and Clemson, and a home game against Wake Forest over the next couple of weeks. 

The UConn game now could be a major distraction, coming as it does in the midst of nine remaining ACC games.  Winning an ACC title has to come first on Jeff Walz’s list of priorities. Granted, however, a win over UConn would not be very far behind, during the regular season or in post-season play.

Asia Durr returns intact, Louisville women edge Duke

A scary few minutes for University of Louisville basketball fans as Asia Durr is carried off the floor in the first half after incurring an ankle injury. She returned a few minutes later to an ovation.

One of those moments in the first half for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team when Asia Durr goes down in pain, having twisted an ankle, banging her fists on the floor in frustration.

Up to that point Durr had already scored 14 points on her way to another big night. Fans in the crowd of 8,101 holding their collective breath, willing her to return, exhaling a few minutes later, giving Asia an ovation as she returns to the court.

Nightmare scenario avoided. Durr would cool off on her way to a 22-point performance in 34 minutes of playing time. Third-ranked UofL would defeat 17th-ranked Duke 66-60 for its 17th win without a loss this season.

Duke would reduce a 14-point Louisville lead to three points at one point, with the Cardinals leaning heavily on senior Myisha Hines-Allen in the second half. The UofL senior would score 10 points and retrieve 13 rebounds for her fifth double-double this season and the 34th of her career.

Sam Fuehring becoming a consistent contributor, adding 12 points and seven rebounds. Her two free throws with 22 seconds remaining giving UofL a five-point lead and some breathing room.

Next up is Virginia Tech (12-3) ON Sunday at 2 p.m. at the KFC Yum! Center.

Another cakewalk for Louisville women

On the surface not much to take away from the University of Louisville women’s basketball team’s 91-56 win over UT Martin. Making it look easy, the Cardinals improving their record to 9-0.

Myisha Hines-Allen leading all scorers with 16 points in 20 minutes (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Despite the margin of victory, Coach Jeff Walz was not that pleased with the win, stating, “I keep telling them, it’s not who you play but how you play,” he said. “That’s how playing time is going to be determined.”

Myisha Hines-Allen would lead all scorers with 16 points, all but six of them in the first half. The only reason she didn’t notch another double-double was she was only in the game 21 minutes. Asia Durr and Jazmine Jones would contribute 14 apiece during their abbreviated playing time.

Kylie Shook getting a rare start, but the 6-foot-4 sophomore managing only two points. Having a tough time converting shots, making only one of six. She was a major factor on defense, however, grabbing four defensive rebounds while blocking four Tennessee Martin shots.

Asia Durr turning in 14 points but making only four of 11 shots (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Plenty of action from the bench again, giving the 6,279 fans at the KFC Yum! Center another good look at the depth available to Coach Jeff Walz. The more time the subs get, the more they will contribute during the upcoming nitty-gritty of the schedule.

If anything else is to be concluded, it would be that freshman guard Dana Evans is a serious player. She never takes a play off and is equally intense on both the defensive and offensive ends of the court. Evans had only six points but she also had six assists and three steals to go with three fouls.

Louisville women knock off Oregon to claim second WNIT title

Asia Durr  and Myisha Hines-Allen in above photos were selected for the WNIT first team after Louisville disposed of Oregon in the championship game (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Off to a great start, this University of Louisville women’s basketball team, already adding some nice hardware to the trophy cases.

Asia Durr would miss her first two field goal attempts, but make five straight shots for 14 points in the first quarter, giving UofL a nine-point lead over Oregon before a crowd of 6,162 on Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center.

From that point on, just a matter of time. UofL defeating Oregon 74-61 for its second pre-season National Invitation Tournament. UofL won its first pre-season WNIT during the 2013 season. The win raised the fifth-ranked Cardinals’ record to 5-0, a start that includes wins over three top 25 teams.

Durr, who scored in 26 points, sat most of the second quarter after collecting two fouls. Her teammate Myisha Hines-Allen made good on eight of 11 shots from the field for 17 points, and was named Most Valuable Player in the tournament. 

Freshman guard Dana Evans earning lots of playing time early in her career (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

No official accolades for freshman guard Dana Evans but she is making her presence felt. After a crazy fall that brought tears to her eyes late in the third quarter, Evans was back the next quarter, playing for the last six minutes of the game. She had six points, four assists and two rebounds in 23 minutes of playing time.

No denying how impressive the women have looked in their first five games. They will have five days to get their feet back on the ground, hosting Murray State at 1 p.m. Friday at the Yum! Center.