Hines-Allen owns the day, Louisville women the ACC title

Your 2017-18 Atlantic Coast Conference champions pose for the official photo, celebrating a long awaited and deserved conference championship (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Myisha Hines-Allen was the first player on the ladder cutting the net following the University of Louisville women’s basketball team’s 81-49 win over Pittsburgh. A special day for Myisha and UofL, an exuberant ending to the regular season.

Myisha Hines-Allen prepares for her final regular season game at Louisville during pre-game ceremonies for the team’s only senior (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Senior Day for Hines-Allen, the only senior in the 2017-18 class, her family on hand, cousins and friends, along with 10,431 adoring fans at the KFC Yum! Center. The video tributes from fans began before the opening tip, continued throughout the game, and followed the cutting down of the nets.

Special day for the entire women’s basketball team as well, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, their first conference championship in 17 years. Officially they tied for first with Notre Dame but the nation saw the Cardinals trounce the Irish by 33 points in January.

There would be no distractions despite all of the attention. Hines-Allen could do no wrong in her final regular season game, scoring 18 points and grabbing 16 rebounds for the 43rd double-double in her four-year career. Her layup with 5:37 left in second quarter allowed her to pass Nell Knox (1,899 points) for third all-time in scoring for Louisville.

Jeff Walz gets that ACC conference championship for the 2017-18 season (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

She would leave the game to a standing ovation at the 3:33 mark,  the applause continuing after play had resumed on the court. Afterwards she would pose for the team photo and foist an ACC championship high above her head, taking a victory lap around the court. She would catch the championship net from Coach Jeff Walz and wear it around her neck to the post-game press conference.

Asia Durr would do her part, of course, handing out six assists while making good on six 3-pointers on her way to a team high 20 points. But mostly she was happy for Hines-Allen, proclaiming, “”She’s a great player. I can’t wait to see her at the next level.”

But first, as Hines-Allen reminded everyone in the press conference, “We got more business to take care of. I’m not really shocked because I knew we were capable of winning, it’s just like it’s huge, senior game. I’m happy we were able to play for a championship on my senior day game and just to experience this.”

Louisville is 15-1 in conference play and 29-2 and is the No. 1 seed as it prepares for the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. The Cardinals earned a double bye and will play their first game at 2 p.m. Friday.

Louisville women can add a conference banner Sunday

Full speed ahead for Sam Fuehring and her braided ponytail. Sam would not get a field goal but was four of four from the free throw line. In top photo Jazmine Jones gets loose for two of her 10 points (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).
Kylee Shook added four points and blocked two shots in 14 minutes (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

One banner came down in the KFC Yum! Center a couple of days ago. But if all goes well, the University of Louisville women’s basketball team will have earned the right to hang another.

The UofL women are in a position to earn their first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference banner come Sunday afternoon against visiting Pittsburgh. The Cardinals have not won a regular season conference championship since winning a Conference USA title.

Technically Louisville is currently tied with Notre Dame with identical 14-1 conference records. They likely wind up sharing the title, but the Cardinals will go down as the better team, defeating the Irish 33 points in January. UofL would also get the tiebreaker and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

Jeff Walz’ team overcame Virginia 51-39 before a crowd of 8,434 on Thursday night, Asia Durr with 13 points and seven rebounds leading the way. Louisville led most of the way against a Virginia team that played incredible defense but had a terrible shooting night. UofL’s offense wasn’t much better, hitting on 38% of its shots to only 26.5% for the Cavaliers.

Myisha Hines-Allen, in her next to last home game at UofL, added seven points, as did Arica Carter. Jazmine Jones keeps getting better, adding 10 points and two assists.

Look for a banner day on Sunday.

Familiar script for Louisville women against UConn

The big stage, the bright lights blinding and numbing, the touring actors fumbling their lines, trying to ad lib their way.

Panic time in those first 10 minutes, the University of Louisville women’s basketball team committing nine turnovers, missing 12 of 14 field goal attempts. UConn up 24-6 after the first quarter. Game over.

Familiar script against the Huskies. Starts out innocently enough, with a turnover leading to a quick UConn basket. Between all the empty trips down court for the Cardinals, there is one turnover, another and still another, the Huskies converting all of them into points. 

The outcome never in doubt after the initial surge although the margin was only 11 points in UConn’s 69-58 win over visiting Louisville in front of 10,000-plus. Just another night at Gampel Pavillion where the Huskies have won 76 straight home games.

Some might find some consolation in the fact that the UofL women outscored UConn 38-27 in the second half. They would have to acknowledge that the Huskies were never seriously threatened. Had they been, would there have been still another surge?

Coach Jeff Walz may have convinced his pupils that they could play with UConn after the first quarter, and they did hang around.  By then it was too late, his charges totally unprepared and unequipped to handle the initial mugging.

Lots of talk after the game about the Cardinals having learned some lessons and knowing what they had to work on the rest of the season. You know, just in case they run into UConn during the post-season. 

The Cardinals obviously learned a lot about themselves, absorbing one blow after another to their collective psyche. Pretty obvious that it’s going to take more than just trading baskets with UConn for a couple of quarters to ever seriously threaten the Huskies.

Louisville women in a yawner over Pittsburgh, now 20-0

Apparently a challenge for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team to get excited about playing Pittsburgh with all those empty seats at the Peterson Events Center.

Wake me when it’s over, the Cardinals ambulating to a 77-51 win over the Panthers.

The Cardinals led by only four points at the half and by 10 after three quarters. Bionca Dunham would erupt for six straight points in the fourth quarter to ignite a 16-0 run for the Cardinals. Dana Evans making life difficult for the Panthers as well, with three steals, two 3-pointers and eight points.

Yacine Diop of Pitt taking advantage of UofL’s lethargy and post Notre Dame letdown, hitting almost everything she threw at the basket in the first half, getting 19 points.  Her magical night ending when her shots stop falling and she runs out of fouls, but good for 26 points.

Myisha Hines-Allen getting off to a slow start but picking up her game in the second half. Chalking up the 37th double-double of her four-year tenure. She would score 13 points and grab a career high of 18 rebounds.

Asia Durr maybe saving her best stuff for the better teams, with only one 3-pointer and nine points. Steady Sam Fuehring good for 12 points.

Cardinals are 20-0 overall, 6-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference 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.