Louisville women turn lights out on Virginia Tech

^ Kylee Shook for two of her 15 points – Cindy Rice Shelton photo

Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook lead their fellow seniors for a victory lap after their day at the KFC Yum! Center (Mike DeZarn photo).
Bionca Dunham and Yacine Diop battle for a rebound (Cindy Rice Shelton photo0.

Senior Day for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team. Time to officially recognize the incredible accomplishments of a class that participated in a record number of 124 wins over the past four seasons.

Talking about Jazmine Jones, Kylee Shook, Bionca Dunham, Jessica Laemmle and, yes, Yacine Diop, the transfer from Pittsburgh. Having wrapped the first unfettered Atlantic Coast Conference regular season championship during their final season.

Jessica Laemmle in a rare start role, getting her team off to a good start and a lead they would never relinquish (Mike DeZarn photo).

Laemmle, the 5-foot-2 dynamo, getting her first start in a Cardinals’ uniform, connecting on a 15-foot jumper. Those would be her only points, but she had set the tone, with Louisville rolling to a convincing 70-53 win over a very good Virginia Tech team.

Shook with still another double-double, with 12 points and 15 points, plus three assists, a steal and a block. Jones with a game-leading 17 points and three assists. Dunham with nine rebounds and eight points. Diop with eight points and two steals. 

Jeff Walz with flowers for each of the seniors, celebrating still another ACC regular season championship (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The other good news, witnessed by a crowd of 10,423 people at the KFC Yum! Center, was the return of recently injured Dana Evans and Elizabeth Balogun to action. Entering from the bench, Evans would score eight points and make four assists in just over 24 minutes. Balogun with three points in her 15 minutes.  Both on the way to recovery.

The Cardinals would force Virginia Tech into 18 turnovers, earning 21 points over the VT errors, while making only seven turnovers themselves. 

“Our kids did a fantastic job,” said UofL Coach Jeff Walz. “We went into this game knowing Tech could shoot the three point shot, especially Dara Mabley and Aisha Sheppard. We knew that if Elizabeth Kitley gets 30, she would get 30, but we only going to give them two-point attempts …”

Between Mabley and Sheppard would get only five 3-point attempts while making only one of them, contributing only seven points collectively.  Kitley, a  6-foot-5 candidate for ACC freshman of the year, would get 17 points.

Gallery courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton

Louisville dismantles UConn on Senior Day

Luke Hancock is escorted by family and friends for his final game at the KFC Yum! Center.
Luke Hancock is escorted by family and friends for his final game.

Hard to imagine University of Louisville basketball without some of the players who competed for the last time at the KFC Yum! Center in Cardinal uniforms Saturday.

Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson

Four of them — Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Stephan Van Treese and Tim Henderson — playing their last home game as seniors, having compiled so many memories, so many accomplishments, the winningest class in UofL history, including two Final Fours and a national championship.  Providing the leadership for a team that just may putting the pieces together for another memorable run.

Montrezl Harrell, just a sophomore but a co-captain, inevitably putting his name in the NBA draft, fitting in perfectly with his older teammates, bringing so much so quickly for a team that badly needed his enthusiasm and skill set.

Stephan Van Treese
Stephan Van Treese

Big game, emotions running rampant, with the kind of distractions that often affect individual focus and collective composure. Sometimes manifested in overpowering starts and big leads, often fizzling as the game wears on. Like when Louisville jumps out to an early 17-5 lead before a dry spell allowing UConn to cut the margin to eight with three minutes to go in the first half.

UofL’s shooting may have cooled off briefly but not its defensive effort, not allowing UConn’s Shabazz Napier or Ryan Boatright to collect a single field goal in the first half. They would wind up with only nine and six points, respectively while managing only three assists and turning the ball over nine times.

  • Russ Smith, playing in front of several of his high school teammates from New York in the crowd, showing he’s much more than a shooter now, making a rare start at point guard and racking up a career high 13 assists while making four steals. Russ would, believe it or not, take only two field goal attempts, winding up with only three points in the game.
  • Luke Hancock’s three-point shot has never looked better (except in the NCAA championship game). He would hit four of them in a game for the fifth time this season.
  • Montrezl Harrell knows when to pounce, again looking almost unstoppable, with his 20 points — half of them from dunks — and 13 rebounds, his eighth double-double this season.
  • Stephan Van Treese, who demonstrated a pretty impressive post move for the first time ever, would also pull down 13 rebounds. Keep working on that post move, Stephan, a secret weapon could come in handy the next two or three weeks.

An impressive performance 81-48 win over UConn on Senior Day, Louisville wrapping up the regular season with a 26-5 won-lost record. These players have been through a lot in the past four seasons and they’re not ready to say goodbye any time soon.

Russ Smith with his dad (left) and other family members.
Russ Smith with his dad (left) and other family members.