So close that last three-point shot by Shoni Schimmel that could have sent the game into overtime, providing a second chance for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team to get back to the NCAA Final Four.
Shoni didn’t want her career to be over, having just connected on another three-pointer to pull UofL with three points with 2.5 seconds remaining. Her team had mounted a furious rally, almost overcoming a 12-point deficit with two minutes in the game.
Schimmel would play the entire 40 minutes, savoring every minute of her last game, scoring 31 points while making four assists, five rebounds and five steals. Her last shot at UofL would rise high in the air and downward, bounding off the rim, giving Maryland a 76-73 win.
Shoni has made an indelible mark at UofL, with her sister Jude, and all the Native Americans who became Louisville fans, traveling great distances to cheer them on. She leaves a wonderful gift in Jude to partially soften the separation.
Asia Taylor didn’t want it be over, fighting, scrapping for every loose ball, refusing to yield, with an unforgettable tenacity in those closing minutes. She was not going to go down quietly, at one point retrieving the ball at least three times from Maryland as the clock ticked down. She would play 33 minutes, scoring 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and one steal — but it seemed like 10 times that number. Just ask Maryland.
Antonita Slaughter didn’t want it to be over, that silky shot of hers so softly flowing through the nets six times, including two three-pointers, for her 16 points, each of them a small miracle considering her life-threatening experience on the same court four months ago.
Tia Gibbs didn’t want it to be over, not like this, not in a game where her shot wasn’t falling, from near or far. She would contribute six points, five rebounds and foul out in her farewell game.
Jeff Walz didn’t want it to be over, somehow getting his team in a position to win despite a seven-minute scoring drought. That, plus a plethora of missed open layouts, would just be too much for him to overcome. An amazing job with a team that finished with a 33-5 won-lost record, second best in the program’s history.
It’s over, unfortunately, but what a group of seniors, and what an incredible experience for them and their fans, a season begetting great memories and few regrets.