Arica Carter was not in the starting lineup at tipoff for the opening tip against North Carolina. But she would be there when the University of Louisville most needed her, barely clinging to a lead with the clock winding down.
North Carolina had reduced a 19-point lead to two points at with five minutes to go — talented and inspired, hoping to knock UofL from the ranks of the unbeaten. Conference opener a preview of things to come for the Cardinals.
But that was when Carter went to work, scoring five straight points and eight of UofL’s final 14 points. Destined to make a difference, filling the void on a off night for Asia Durr. No tolerance for any upset, she would secure the 73-66 win in front of a crowd of 8,506 at the KFC Yum! Center.
Making an equally strong impression was junior Jazmine Jones with one of the best games of her career, with 17 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Kylee Shook, Dana Evans and Durr would add 10 points apiece.
North Carolina, with a 9-7 record, providing evidence that the ACC may be much stronger from top to bottom this season. Louisville with a 13-0 record now, but the road ahead is littered with opponents who will be highly motivated. Nobody said it was going to be easy.
So much fun watching Asia Durr for fans of University of Louisville women’s basketball team. Making it look so easy as she gets her shots off against double-teams, triple-teams, full-court presses, box-and-ones. Asia has seen them all, the bigger the opponent the better, the more she excels.
Case in point, her heroics in UofL’s recent win over Kentucky in a battle of the unbeaten. She would secure her team’s first seven points, with Wildcat defenders literally hanging on her, en route to a 32-point performance. Her best game thus far may have been that 36-point outpoint in a 100-67 drubbing of eventual national champion Notre Dame last season.
“I’ve really embraced being the go-to player,” said Durr, who is averaging 21.7 points through 11 games this season. “I want to be the player where, when the game is on the line, coach draws up the play for me.
“But whatever Coach needs me to do, I’ll do it. Anything. He’s asked me to do different things, like help lead the freshmen, help make them better, and that’s been a good challenge.”
Asia will likely be a lottery pick during the WNBA draft at the end of the season but she wants to stay focused on the present, enjoying every minute of her time at Louisville, and hopefully a second consecutive Final Four appearance.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself,” Durr told ESPN. “This is my last year, so I want to leave a mark here with how people will think of me — not just with basketball but with the type of person I am. I like spending time with our fans and the kids who look up to me. With that and school and basketball, it keeps me pretty busy.”
The rivalry never gets old, never any lack of intensity.
Two of the best women’s basketball teams to compete in the Louisville vs. Kentucky rivalry, entering the game with identical 9-0 records. Cruising in the pre-conference season, each wanting another signature win. But mostly wanting to knock their rival from the ranks of the unbeaten.
UofL ranked fifth in the nation, UK 19th. Even more motivation for the Wildcats, wanting to move up in the poll, wanting the Cardinals to slide. Louisville equally fired up for Kentucky, the last thing UofL needs is a loss to the arch rival.
Louisville would win this showdown 80-75 before a crowd of 13,786 crowd of heavily red-clad fans at the KFC Yum! Center. It was UofL’s third straight in the series, and probably the most impressive win yet a team that could be among UK’s best in recent years.
Ugly Sweater Night for University of Louisville women’s basketball has always brought out the best in holiday cheer in the past and this year was no exception. All sorts of Christmas apparel was in evidence among the 7,104 fans on hand for the recent game against Tennessee Martin.
Asia Durr led the way again, scoring 25 points in a 102-62 win that improved UofL’s won-loss record to 9-0 for the season. Arica Carter, Bionca Dunham and Dana Evans added 16, 14 and 11 points respectively.
Sunday is Pack the House day as UofL entertains unbeaten Kentucky (9-0) at 2 p.m. Tickets for $4 are available at the UofL ticket office with a Kroger Plus Card.
Myisha Hines-Allen had to know it was all but over the moment no whistle was blown after she was muscled into the backstop on that layup in the closing seconds. A throw down of epic proportions, no way was she going to be allowed to make that shot.
A sad way to end a brilliant career for one of all-time greats in the annals of University of Louisville women’s basketball. Just 10 seconds earlier she had given the Cardinals a three-point lead, choosing to widen the lead instead of waiting to get fouled or running out the clock.
Fate had made it possible, a championship opportunity had beckoned, but it had slipped through their fingers. Mississippi State would take full advantage, wearing down the Cardinals 73-63 in overtime. Leaving Myisha in tears, frustrating UofL fans again in a non-existent rivalry with a team from somewhere in Mississippi.
Hines-Allen will be remembered in a lot of different ways by UofL fans, mostly for the toughness with which she played, especially during her senior season in her team to a 36-3 won-lost record, the best in the school’s history.
Hines-Allen became just the second UofL women’s player with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, joining Angel McCoughtry in that elite company. She has 16 double-doubles this season and her 45 career double-doubles rank second in school history. She also has 373 total rebounds this season, the most in program history.
The leadership yoke now falls to her teammates, in good hands with players like Asia Durr, Sam Fuehring and Arica Carter. Each of them making significant contributions during a memorable season, hopefully stronger, wiser and more determined.
The play of Hines-Allen during her final season at UofL should provide plenty of inspiration. Filling her shoes will be a major challenge.