A beautiful night at the KFC Yum! Center, all the pieces in place for a milestone in the evolution of the University of Louisville women’s basketball team.A record crowd, with 22,163 fans packing the three levels of the arena.
Hundreds of Native Americans, in all manner of custom dress, dozens of them opting for Louisville T-shirts. At least 1,500 of them from 40 different states, some driving between 800 and 1,000 miles to honor Shoni and Jude Schimmel. Many of them declaring the Schimmel girls heroes, setting an example for their sisters across the country.
Senior Night honoring Shoni, Tia Gibbs, Antonita Slaughter, and Asia Taylor, members of the winningest women’s team in UofL. Each of them having overcome unique challenges, wanting to reverse the trend against the juggernaut known as UConn, a team UofL hadn’t defeated since 1993.
They would jump out of the gate, Asia Taylor good for a jump shot, Shoni with a three-pointer and Sara Hammond with another jumper, the Cardinals out to a 7-0 start, and managed to hold a 16-13 lead at the 14:13 mark. Asia would not score again and Shoni would not hit another three-pointer the rest of the game. The Huskies trailed just three more times after that before an all-too-familiar run for a 12-point lead at the half.
The faster taller, stronger UConn team would out-rebound Louisville 47-30, block eight shots, and turn the Cardinals over 16 times, promptly answering anything resembling a challenge, and finish the regular season with a perfect 31-0 record.
Tia Gibbs led UofL scoring with 16 points, including three three-pointers. Hammond and Shoni Schimmel added 12 and nine points, respectively. The Cardinals finished with a 28-3 mark.
UofL has made progress against UConn in the past eight years, but UConn just keeps getting better, continuing to raise the bar for the Cardinals.