Sara Hammond sparkles in Louisville’s win over Virginia

There are days when nothing goes right, as was the case Saturday when the University of Louisville men’s basketball team couldn’t hit wide open shots all day long.

Then there are some where everything goes right. It was one of those days Sunday for Sara Hammond, Myisha Hines-Allen and the UofL women’s team in a 67-55 win over a tenacious Virginia team before 11,332 fans at the KFC Yum! Center. The second largest home crowd of the season.

Sara Hammond 20 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one foul.
A game to savor for Sara Hammond.

Hammond had one of her better games in four years, finding numerous ways to get open, making good on her opportunities, scoring 16 of her team’s first 20 points in the first half. The law of averages would catch up with her in the second, and she would wind up with 20 points, nine rebounds, two assists and only one foul.

Hines-Allen, a freshman center, would play the game of her young career, emerging from the second 20 minutes with 15 of her 17 points.

Couldn’t come at a better time, against a determined Virginia team that refused to go away, rallying time after time on the back of Faith Randolph. Randolph seemed capable of hitting shots from any spot on the court, winding up with 22 for the game.

The women are 17-1 overall, 5-0 in the ACC. Next up is Florida State in Tallahassee on Thursday.

Louisville women cough up another one to Kentucky

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Kentucky women’s basketball coach spent almost as much time addressing the officials as he did his players in a game against the University of Louisville Sunday in front of a crowd of 14,862 fans at the KFC Yum! Center. The tactic was successful, with his UK team upsetting UofL 77-68.

Louisville was clearly the better team with superior players but couldn’t find the basket or value possessions in the second half against a familiar UK press that has hampered UofL the past four seasons.

Jeff Walz without answers.
Jeff Walz without answers for Kentucky’s press.

UofL jumped out to a 16-point lead and led 42-29 at the end of the first half, dominating the Wildcats in all phases of the game in the first 20 minutes. Things went south in the second half with the Cardinals making only seven of 29 field attempts while committing 15 turnovers.

Louisville would wind up with 28 turnovers for the game, including six by Bria Smith, five by Myisha Hines-Allen, four by Jude Schimmel, three each for Sara Hammond and Mariya Moore.

The Cardinals appeared afraid to shoot in the second half. When they did, there were far too many misses beneath the basket, UofL rushing shots or tossing the ball straight up in the air, expecting it to somehow find its way to the basket.

Jude Schimmel, who has played in four losses against UK in four years, will not have one decent memory of the rivalry, closing it out by missing all six of her shots Sunday.

Sara Hammond, a McDonald’s All American from the Bluegrass state, would score her 1,000th point on a free throw. Not much of a presence otherwise, managing 11 points and five rebounds, as she continues to play nice, exhibiting those ups and downs in her senior year.

Prior to the game, Hammond had discussed the importance of winning a game in the rivalry, the bragging rights and all. She also admitted, “We kind of gave it away the last couple years.”

Sunday’s outcome had a very familiar feeling.

UConn women continue to own Louisville

The UConn women’s basketball team remains undefeated after 26 games, having been seriously challenged in one of those games — an 11-point win at Baylor in January.

Other than Duke, no other team had come within 22 points of UConn until Sunday. The University of Louisville women managed to hang within 17 points in an 81-64 loss on UConn’s home court.

Almost respectable but no hints of a moral victory for the UofL women,who saw their 16-game winning streak come to an end and experienced only their second loss in 25 games.   UConn was missing shots early, but the Louisville women were unable to hit their own, making mistakes and turnovers, UConn making them pay time after time in the second half.

If they were ever going to pose a serious challenge at UConn, it would have been with a veteran lineup that included four seniors and a junior.

Shoni Schimmel taking what the UConn defense allowed in the first half, which wasn’t much. Getting frustrated in the final 20 minutes, hoping those over-the-shoulder shots go in, few of them getting close. She had nine points, including one three-pointer.

Asia Taylor probably playing her best game as a Cardinal, but she was still turning the ball over six times.  Unveiling a new shooting acumen, she would connect of seven of 14 shots for 18 points. She would also collect eight rebounds, make three blocks, two steals and three assists.

With all the attention Shoni was getting, Sara Hammond was finding herself open often. Unfortunately, would make only four of 10 shots, winding up with 11 points and six rebounds.

The positive aspect may have been that Cardinals never lost their composure in this game, contrary to many previous efforts against the Huskies. If they had been shooting anywhere close to their shooting average of 46.9%, the Huskies may have been vulnerable. Sunday they hit only 24 of 65 attempts, a 36.9% shooting percentage.

This may have been second best chance Louisville will have this season to beat UConn in an effort to end an 14-game losing streak that dates back to the early nineties. The best opportunity will be when they meet again in the last game of the regular season at the KFC Yum! Center on March. 3.

UConn had better bring its A game.

Louisville women roar back to claim WNIT championship

The University of Louisville wanted it more.

Oklahoma wanted this one badly, packed house full of crazed Sooners going bonkers, desperate to make an impression, hungry for a championship. Who knew the Okies loved women’s basketball so much?wnit

Pumped from the adrenalin, the home court advantage, and the call prompting an early technical foul on Jeff Walz, the Oklahomans would race to a 9-0 lead and extend it to 17-2 before reality would set in.

The UofL women weren’t going to roll over. They’ve been in this situation before, in opposite situations, knowing that early leads are just that, early leads than can be overcome with patience. They had three starters in early foul trouble, were whistled for 34 fouls and outscored 35-20 from the free-throw line.

But fifth-ranked UofL would prevail 97-92 over the 11th-ranked Sooners in overtime.

Tia Gibbs, taking up where she left off, two years ago, would carry the Lady Cards on her oft-injured-on shoulders, contributing 20 points in the first half. Her third three-pointer would give UofL its first lead 40-39 at the 2:10 mark in the first half. Her fourth would give the Lady Cards a 48-43 advantage at the half. She would lead all scorers with 23 points, a career high for her.

Oklahoma would worm its way back late in the second half and own an 85-82 advantage with 23 seconds remaining in regulation. Jude Schimmel would go the length of the court for two layups between an Oklahoma hit and a miss at the free throw line to send the game into overtime at 86-86.

The Lady Cards would score nine of the first 10 points in overtime, Antonita Slaughter getting them going with a three-pointer. The Sooner had two chances to tie it the last 15 seconds but shots by Morgan Hook and Aaryn Ellenberg (or Ellenberger, according to one TV analyst) were off target. 

Shoni Schimmel would 16 points, most of them in the second half for the Cards. Asia Taylor would wind up  10 points and 10 rebounds.

Sara Hammond would be named the tournament’s most valuable player.

Just wanted it more.

Bulls plunder Lady Cards

Jude-SchimmelJude Schimmel of the University of Louisville is surrounded by South Florida defenders as she attempts to find an opening in a 73-62 loss to USF Monday at the Yum! Center.  She would score nine points, her sister Shoni 16 points, and Bria Smith would add 12 of them.

“We started off the very beginning of the game the same way we did the second half, we had no energy we were on our heels and we let them get a run,” said Sara Hammond, who contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds for Louisville.  “I guess they were looking for revenge because we went down there and beat them on their home court.

“You have to give them credit, they came out and played hard, and played with energy and got their guards going. We were just on our heels the whole game.”

And, oh yes, Andrea Smith scored a career high 35 points for South Florida.

UofL’s record fell to 21-6 overall and 9-4 in the Big East Conference. Attendance was 8,201.