Louisville women turn lights out on Virginia Tech

^ Kylee Shook for two of her 15 points – Cindy Rice Shelton photo

Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook lead their fellow seniors for a victory lap after their day at the KFC Yum! Center (Mike DeZarn photo).
Bionca Dunham and Yacine Diop battle for a rebound (Cindy Rice Shelton photo0.

Senior Day for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team. Time to officially recognize the incredible accomplishments of a class that participated in a record number of 124 wins over the past four seasons.

Talking about Jazmine Jones, Kylee Shook, Bionca Dunham, Jessica Laemmle and, yes, Yacine Diop, the transfer from Pittsburgh. Having wrapped the first unfettered Atlantic Coast Conference regular season championship during their final season.

Jessica Laemmle in a rare start role, getting her team off to a good start and a lead they would never relinquish (Mike DeZarn photo).

Laemmle, the 5-foot-2 dynamo, getting her first start in a Cardinals’ uniform, connecting on a 15-foot jumper. Those would be her only points, but she had set the tone, with Louisville rolling to a convincing 70-53 win over a very good Virginia Tech team.

Shook with still another double-double, with 12 points and 15 points, plus three assists, a steal and a block. Jones with a game-leading 17 points and three assists. Dunham with nine rebounds and eight points. Diop with eight points and two steals. 

Jeff Walz with flowers for each of the seniors, celebrating still another ACC regular season championship (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The other good news, witnessed by a crowd of 10,423 people at the KFC Yum! Center, was the return of recently injured Dana Evans and Elizabeth Balogun to action. Entering from the bench, Evans would score eight points and make four assists in just over 24 minutes. Balogun with three points in her 15 minutes.  Both on the way to recovery.

The Cardinals would force Virginia Tech into 18 turnovers, earning 21 points over the VT errors, while making only seven turnovers themselves. 

“Our kids did a fantastic job,” said UofL Coach Jeff Walz. “We went into this game knowing Tech could shoot the three point shot, especially Dara Mabley and Aisha Sheppard. We knew that if Elizabeth Kitley gets 30, she would get 30, but we only going to give them two-point attempts …”

Between Mabley and Sheppard would get only five 3-point attempts while making only one of them, contributing only seven points collectively.  Kitley, a  6-foot-5 candidate for ACC freshman of the year, would get 17 points.

Gallery courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton

UofL women are your ACC regular season champs

Jazmine Jones leading the cheers from the bench. along with Mykasa Robinson (Mike DeZarn photos).

Boston College with everything to play for, riding a five-game winning streak, vying for a top four finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Knowing the University of Louisville women were again without starters Dana Evans and Elizabeth Balogun. 

Big, strong, sharp shooting BC ready to catch UofL on an off night, maybe looking ahead to the ACC tournament. That was the upset scenario anyway.

UofL, however, not liking that script, not going along for the ride, not taking anything for granted. 

The Cardinals would race to 46-24 halftime lead, never looking back en route to 68-48 win before a crowd of 8,514 at the KFC Yum! Center. Standing alone atop the ACC standings with a conference record of 15-2 this time around. The Cardinals shared the title with Notre Dame the past two seasons.

  • Kylee Shook continuing the rapid improvement evidenced in her last few games. Still another double-double, with a game-leading 18 points and 10 rebounds. Also credit her with an assist to go with two blocks and two steals.
  • Jazmine Jones, bringing extra levels of enthusiasm in this one, her sole focus on winning a conference championship, scoring 17 points, with three assists and three blocks.
  • Yacine Diop, making things happen when things had to happen, scoring 17 points, grabbing four rebounds and two assists. Reaching her considerable potential at just the right time.
  • Last but certainly not least. Mykasa Robinson standing in for Dana Evans at point guard, keeping that well-oiled offense running smoothly. Adding seven points while making five assists, three steals and a block

The win improving UofL’s overall record to 26-3. The final home game is Sunday at Noon, designated as Senior Day to honor the seniors, having contributed to 123 wins over the past four seasons.

12,086 see Louisville women pound Notre Dame again

 ^ Mykasa Robinson never stops – Mike DeZarn photo ^

Dana Evans’ smile says it all after a second straight win and still another thrashing of Notre Dame within three weeks. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Probably at least another season before the rivalry between the University of Louisville women’s basketball team and Notre Dame becomes unpredictable and scorching hot again. For now, however, UofL fans are content to enjoy still another 30-point-plus win over the Irish.

Muffet McGraw looking for signs of hope but finding none in Notre Dame’s second loss to Louisville this season (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Some 12,086 people showing up at the KFC Yum! Center for the “Pink Out” on Sunday to see Coach Jeff Walz’s Cardinals coast to an 82-49 win over Muffet McGraw’s Irish. Just three weeks ago UofL had shellacked Notre Dame 86-54 at South Bend.

Notable that post-game “handshakes” are always interesting, with the coaches barely making incidental contact. A wonder if the hands connect at all, because the coaches haven’t made eye contact in a couple of years. Pre-game formalities are out of the question.

Should have been competitive, with Louisville having lost two of its last three games and Notre Dame winning three of four since the January to the Cardinals. And it was competitive for a while, at least during the early going, with UofL clinging to a two-point lead at the end of the first quarter.

Hall of Famer Denny Crum, popular with young and old Louisville fans, is greeted by admirers at the game (Mike DeZarn photo).

Louisville would quickly take control in the second quarter, with Mykasa Robinson finding Yacine Diop early and often on four assists for eight points. Owning a 40-26 lead at the intermission, never to be seriously threatened again.

A much smoother experience with Elizabeth Balogun in the lineup, the UofL sophomore adding 11 points, three blocks and an assist. A favorite with her teammates, sometimes needing encouragement from Dana Evans to shoot the ball. Evans, meanwhile, leading all scorers with 18 points, including four 3-pointers and seven assists.

The Ladybirds, always on fire, always winning, carrying on a great UofL tradition (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

“We never lost any confidence during the losses,” said Walz. “Overall I am very pleased with where we are today. I know how good our team is when we’re at full strength. When you lose some people for a few days, it can have an impact.”

Mykasa Robinson may some day in the future be the leading scorer in a game but for now she seems content to prefer playing defense and finding her teammates. Making a total of nine assists while grabbing seven rebounds and adding six points.

Robinson always cool running the offense, the first on the floor for a loose ball, and inescapable on defense. Nothing gets by her or past her, constantly  in motion, pure energy. The spark never goes out and it’s contagious. Twenty-nine minutes and 45 seconds of excitement on Sunday.

McGraw admitting her troops were not ready for Louisville, with her team committing 23 turnovers. “We could  not compete with them, they’re the best team on our schedule,” she said. “We’ve still learning, and it could take a while.”

Jazmine Jones her happy self after another decisive victory over Notre Dame, poses with Elise, Noreen, Holland and Adele after the game (Mike DeZarn photo)

Sue Semrau with another win over Louisville women

Dana Evans runs the gauntlet – Cindy Rice Shelton photo

One should not have to look up the name of the Florida State women’s basketball coach. Her FSU teams have only defeated the University of Louisville five of the last seven meetings.

The name is Sue Semrau, winning five out the last seven games against Louisville.

But there she is, roaming the sidelines, her latest team frustrating the Cardinals again, this time by a score of 67-59 in front of a crowd of 8,314 at the KFC Yum! Center. Her team in a familiar spoiler role even though UofL seemed like an easy college basketball pick.

Guessed that name yet? Probably not. The coach is Coach Sue Semrau (sim-rour, as in sour). She’s been in charge of the Florida State program for 23 years. Entering the season with 423 wins, her team is now 17-5 overall and 8-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Her team will never win the all-airport team, not blessed with any superior athletes or that great a tradition. No big or recognizable athletes. Not great shooters or rebounders either. All they do is grind Louisville to a stop and defeat Coach Jeff Walz on an all-too-frequent basis.

Dana Evans with one of more challenging games but getting recognition for those lashes (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Walz warning his team before the game to take Florida State seriously, cautioning that the Seminoles would bring their best game. Challenging his team to be aggressive, wanting his players to take control early.

May have been too convincing about the threat. The Cardinals struggling offensively, managing only 17 points by half time. The Seminoles, loaded with adrenaline, making good and bad shots with equal aplomb, taking full advantage of UofL’s inadequacies. Dana Evans, Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook connecting on only 12 of 41 shots.

And there was an incredulous Sue Semrau, not believing her luck. Once again making things miserable for the UofL women. Making a name for herself at Louisville’s expense.

McCoughtry continues comeback against her old team

Angel McCoughtry kissing KFC Yum! Center floor – Cindy Rice Shelton photo

Former UofL star Angel McCoughtry is closely guarded by current favorite Jazmine Jones under the watchful eyes of Coach Jeff Walz in the Team USA vs. Louisville exhibition game. Jones led Louisville in scoring with 12 points (Mike DeZarn photo).
Angel McCoughtry applauds the crowd of 12,008 who welcomed her back to Louisville on Sunday (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Almost 10 years after she was the No. 1 draft pick of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, Angel McCoughtry returned as a contender for a Team USA position against her former University of Louisville basketball team on Sunday.

An important game for numerous reasons for McCoughtry, including the fact that she had led the Cardinals to their first NCAA Final Four appearance during her senior year. But there’s more at stake this year because she is seeking a comeback after injuring a knee in 2018 season. She did not see any action during the 2019 season.

Dan Evans with two of her 10 points against Team USA. She also had six assists and five rebounds (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Louisville still occupies a strong place in McCoughtry’s heart. She left to a standing ovation from the crowd of 12,008 after scoring 11 points in 21 minutes, kneeling to plant a kiss on the KFC Yum! Center floor. Far from certain that she will make the Olympic team but McCoughtry was ecstatic playing against her old team.

“What a great experience. The arena was full of people, and that just shows you how far we’ve come,” said McCoughtry. “Louisville looks great and I expect them to go deep in the tournament. They play so fast and I think that’s why they beat a lot of teams.”‘

The Cardinals scored 10 unanswered points midway through the opening quarter and a jumper by Mykasa Robinson put them up 19-13.  Far too much talent on the WNBA squad, however, catching up in the second quarter and putting the game out of reach in the third quarter. Final score: Team USA 97, Louisville 54.

Jazmine Jones finished with 12 points for UofL on 4-9 shooting, while Dana Evans had  10 points and six assists .

A timely learning experience for the Cardinals who are 21-1 overall and 10-0 in the ACC.  The beating a reminder that the UofL women had much room to improve as they prepare for a showdown against Florida State (18-4, 7-4) on Thursday at the Yum! Center.

The teams got together at center court after the celebrate top flight women’s basketball in Louisville (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).