Down week for Louisville basketball

Good times and bad times seeming to come in bunches for University of Louisville basketball.

The women’s 20-game winning streak is snapped, the men fail to win their fifth straight, and the NCAA appeal looms heavily over the latter’s program.

From the way this week is going for the Cardinals, and based on some questionable information from a crappy source, the immediate outlook for a successful appeal from the NCAA is not good if the decision comes by Friday.

Best news thus far is that Katina Powell, the hooker at the heart of some of the program’s woes, was detained for shoplifting at a local Walmart.  For a toothbrush, no less.

Louisville’s fifth loss in 19th games would be a 78-75 decision in overtime to Miami. A game marred by flashes of freshman guard Lonnie Walker, the performer with a three-inch high bird’s nest on top of his head. Oblivious to the weirdness, having his way with the Cardinals. 

Walker having a coming out party, scoring a game-high 25 points.  Circus shots keeping the Hurricanes close, including one in the final seconds of regulation sending the game into overtime. His teammate, 6-foot-11 Dewan Huell, equally difficult to stop, with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Still waiting for Quentin Snider to hit a winning field goal for Louisville this season. But not a bad night for him, however, scoring 13 of his team-high 18 points in the second half.  Anas Mahmoud with 15 points, four blocks, two assists and steal. Ray Spalding with nine points and 13 rebounds.

A game Louisville deserved to win, with Coach David Padgett getting everything he could from his team. Doubtful his predecessor or many other prime timers could have won with the way things were going on hump day for UofL basketball.

Bright lights time, Devin Hairston comes through again for UofL

The bright lights were on and so was Devin Hairston.

Bottom of the 10th, score tied, two outs, and the bright lights are on.

Freshman Justin Lavey perched on second base after getting hit by a pitch. Gotta get him home.

Dan McDonnell couldn’t be happier, seeing who’s coming to the plate, none other than Devin Hairston. Just a few days ago, the University of Louisville baseball coach was saying there was no one he would rather see when a game is on the line.

Problem was Hairston had gone into a mini slump since his coach had made the declaration. Brendan McKay and Drew Ellis had caught up with him in runs batted in. He had gone hitless in his four at-bats on Tuesday.

Looking like one of those extra inning affairs that could drag on all night.

But the bright lights are burning brightly, the game on the line. Devin Hairston was ready for the game to be done, taking things in hand, banging a 1-1 pitch into left field.

Lavey sliding into home just ahead of the ball. Game over. UofL winning 6-5 over Miami of Ohio.

The win was Louisville’s 39th against only six losses, in front of a crowd of 1,724 at Jim Patterson Stadium. Hairston making his coach look good again. 

Lots of help from Devin Mann, with two hits, three runs batted; Brendan McKay with a solo home run, his 13th homers; Drew Ellis with a couple of double, and Lavey with the other run batted in.

Bright lights, indeed.

Snider, Mathiang and Deng back but Louisville defense tardy

Deng Adel and Mangok Mathiang were back but the offense was sputtering before a late surge for the Unverrsity of Louisville (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

No concern the game does not begin well, Miami jumping out to an 8-0 lead over the University of Louisville. Not to worry, UofL almost back at full strength, with Quentin Snider back, along with Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel. Happy days are here again.

Fortunately for UofL, Jaylen Johnson was around to get the “lunch-pail”buckets, per Rick Pitino (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

That was exactly the kind of mentality that concerned Coach Rick Pitino before the game. “I was afraid of that,” he said afterwards. “We had been overachieving so much. Ninety-five to ninety percent of teams lose this game. Miami was the better basketball team, they totally outplayed us in every phase of the game.”

Indeed. The Hurricanes seemed to be scoring almost at will in the first half. “We let them drive by us on straight-line drives,” added the coach. “We didn’t rebound well, we didn’t shoot well and we didn’t pass well.”

Yet Pitino said the game may have been the best of the year character-wise. “When the game was on the line, we did all of the above,” he said. “But we’ve still got a lot of work to do on defense.”

Louisville emerged the 71-66 winner after scoring 13 straight points in the second half. The crushing blow, a three-point dagger followed by a free throw from Adel at the 4:22 mark, giving his team a six-point lead and its largest in the game. Adel would make two out of three 3-point attempts, sharing scoring honors with Donovan Mitchell with 18 points.

Snider would need a little time to get going after missing six games with a hip injury. He would miss all three of his shots in the first half, but hit three of five attempts in the second — including a crucial 3-pointer with 41 seconds remaining.

Jaylen Johnson sometimes missing the easy shots but making the impossible ones, delivering what Pitino called a “lunch-pail” effort with 10 points, eight rebounds, a block and a couple of steals. 

Mathiang picking up the slack thankfully as Anas Mahmoud regresses. Anas with three turnovers, zero points and a couple of rebounds while Mangok is collecting seven points and eight rebounds — and three out of four free throw attempts.

The win improves UofL record to 20-5 overall, and 8-4 in the conference, tied for second place before the evening games. Syracuse next, at Syracuse on Monday.

Mariya Moore’s turn to shine, Louisville women edge Miami

Mariya Moore is not shy when it comes to shooting or rebounding, notching 24 points and 7 rebounds (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

One never knows who’s going to grab the reins, assume the leadership role in a game for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team, especially in grinders against top 20 opponents. 

Take your pick from Myisha Hines-Allen, Asia Durr or Mariya Moore. When one or more of them is having an off-game, count on at least one of them to be having an exceptional game. On Sunday it was Mariya Moore’s turn in the spotlight, putting the team on her shoulders in a 63-59 win over Miami.

Moore seemed to have an answer every time Miami got close, scoring eight of her game-high 24 points during the fourth quarter. She dropped in her fourth 3-pointer to give UofL a five-point lead after Miami had cut the margin to two points.

Fun, fun, fun for the crowd of 10,016 at the KFC Yum! Center, especially for the fan wearing the Lamar Jackson tux (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

“Mariya wanted the ball today,” said Walz. “When she wants the ball, she screams for it. If you’re open and don’t get the ball, it’s because they don’t see you. You have to yell for it. She hit a big basket (a 3-pointer) going into half time.”

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Louisville basketball misfires, odds of ACC title remote and dwindling

Chances for a storybook ending to the 2015-16 season were lost for the University of Louisville when the school adopted a post-season tournament ban. A season when anything seemed possible, including a bid for a fourth national title.

With chances for another NCAA title going away, the focus shifted to another goal, capturing another big prize. A consolation prize, for sure, but one that carried significant prestige, a potential milestone in UofL history — an Atlantic Coast Conference regular season trophy. It would have been a great addition on Floyd Street, underscoring UofL’s status as one of college basketball’s premier program.

The odds against that happening this season are remote now, with UofL dropping the 75-63 decision at Miami. Those last few minutes closely resembling recent road losses to Notre Dame and Duke, with UofL unable to score and losing its defensive intensity down the stretch. Not a typical Rick Pitino-coached team on the road, losing its composure, losing its way, losing its identity.

One could see chances for an ACC title slipping away late in the second half, with UofL managing only one field goal in the last five minutes. Trey Lewis, who wound up with 13 points, couldn’t buy a basket, missing four field goal attempts during the scoring drought. Damion Lee, on the other hand, closely contained, looking lost, with six points, only two in the second half.

Shots going up from all angles, hard shots, air balls, one hitting the side of the backboard, all predictable misses during those final five minutes. No getting the ball in the paint, not that anyone seemed to be trying, anything goes. No stopping Miami’s Angel Rodriguez, with the never-changing expression, with the predictable crip shot, taunting UofL’s defense, making the hard shots look easy for him.

As a result, it’s pretty clear now there won’t be any new trophies arriving at Floyd Street this season. Not a bad season, with UofL owning a 22-6 record overall and 11-5 in the AC, some nice highs but more than a few lows. A couple of games remain — against Georgia Tech at home on Tuesday and against Virginia on the road Saturday. Virginia on the road can’t be much fun.

A disappointing end to the 2015-16 season, no matter what happens in the final two games.