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).

Milestone day for Jazmine Jones, nail biter against Duke

Cindy Rice Shelton photo

The University of Louisville honored military veterans before the game Sunday but then had to battle Duke to the final horn in improving its record to 14-1 (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Something about teams on losing streaks that makes them extremely dangerous.  The Duke women’s basketball team, for example, entering Sunday’s game against the University of Louisville on a three-game decline.

Dana Evans was held scoreless for almost three quarters before scoring 10 points in the come from behind win (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Suddenly an intimidating force, presenting offensive and defensive challenges for the seventh-ranked Cardinals. Louisville would somehow survive with a 60-55 win before 10,123 at the KFC Yum! Center.

”It was a game where we had to grind,” said UofL Coach Jeff Walz. ”Jaz stepped up and knocked down pull-up jump shots. She played really, really well, and that’s what we’re going to need now. We’re going to need that consistency.”

The Blue Devils racing to a 22-12 in the first quarter, threatening to put the game away. Jazmine Jones almost singlehandedly keeping UofL close, scoring her team’s first nine points and 14 of Louisville’s 25 points in the first half.  Duke went to the intermission with a 31-25 lead. 

Mykasa Robinson doesn’t shoot often but she came through with six points in the second half (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Down 39-33 midway through the third quarter, UofL used an 8-0 run capped by back-to-back baskets by Elizabeth Balogun to take a 41-39 lead. 

After Duke tied the game at 55-55 with 1:06 left, Evans drained a deep 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock to put UofL ahead 58-55 with 36 seconds to go. Bionca Dunham would sink two free throws to seal the 60-55 victory.

Duke Coach Joanna McCallie bemoaning inequality in the officiating, noting that her team had only four free throw attempts compared to 11 for Louisville. “That was very interesting,” she reiterated at least three times in  her post game press conference. “A very physical game.”

Louisville next travels to Miami for another Atlantic Coast Conference game. The Hurricanes are on a two-game losing streak.

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Jones set a new career high with 26 points, her sixth 20-point game of the season. She also 10 rebounds for her first double-double on the season. Jones also became Louisville’s 30th career 1,000 point scorer.

Louisville bench erupts after Elizabeth Dixon’s basket to tie the score with three minutes to go in the third quarter (Mike DeZarn photo).

 

Double dose of Diop, Louisville hands Kentucky first loss

Jazmine Jones with the L’s up sign for Louisville fans following a one-point win for UofL over Kentucky at Rupp Arena. In top photo, Yacine Diop leaves the floor after shutting down UK’s leading scorer in the second half (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

The outlook was getting worse, the University of Louisville women’s basketball team falling behind Kentucky by nine points with less than eight minutes to go in the third quarter. Situation getting out of hand, with any thoughts of a thrilling 67-66 win all but out of the question.

Some will say that it was two minutes, 25 seconds into that quarter that this UofL team would find itself, shortly after Coach Jeff Walz inserted Yacine Diop into the lineup. Diop was in to try and contain UK’s Rhyne Howard who had scored 22 points to that point. Mission accomplished, Diop allowing Howard only four more points over the next 17 minutes

A couple with divided loyalties manages to stay friendly during the UofL-UK women’s basketball game at Rupp Arena. Official attendance was 11,256 (Mike DeZahn photo).

Diop, who sat out last season with an injury after transferring from Pittsburgh, would contribute four points in the quarter, including a 3-pointer that would cut Kentucky’s lead to 55-53 at the 1:59 mark. She would wind up with a season high eight points to go with six rebounds and two assists.

Providing the go-ahead basket for Louisville would be Kylee Shook, perhaps playing the game of her career. Shook would sink a 3-pointer from the top of the circle in the midst of a furious 13-point run for the Cardinals. 

Coach Jeff Walz with some appreciative comments for Kylee Shook at the post-game press conference (Mike DeZarn photo).

Shook claiming a major stake in this Louisville-Lexington rivalry, making life miserable for those associated with Wildcats. Kylee would finish with her fourth double-double this season, with 11 points and 13 rebounds. UofL needing every one of those, as well as five in-your-face blocks.

Dana Evans, ever the leader, making only one 3-point shot, but leading UofL with 19 points and a whopping 10 assists. Jazmine Jones bringing the enthusiasm, along with 10 points. Bionca Dunham, another Card with a career game, also adding 10 points, three rebounds, three assists and a block.

This game perhaps answering any question about the toughness of this team, setting the stage for more significant victories ahead. The leadership qualities of Evans, Diop, Shook, Dunham and Jones emerging when they were most needed, showing the way for their younger teammates.

Fourth in a row over Kentucky for UofL, ending UK’s undefeated nine-game win streak this season.

Gallery courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton: