Mariya Moore had gotten into such a shooting slump of late she seemed to be avoiding shots altogether. Looking around for her teammates, taking shots only when she was there was no other choice.
Three-point shots? No way because as Coach Jeff Walz pointed out, Mariya had made only one 3-point in 21 attempts over the past five games. The coach urging her to get in the gym, to keep working on her shot, and keep on shooting. And she did, day after day over the last week or so.
Moore’s persistence reaped big dividends for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team Monday. She connected on seven of 10 field goal attempts, including five of five from behind the 3-point line, for 19 points.
Her newfound accuracy, when combined with 23 points from Asia Durr and 14 points from Myisha Hines-Allen, sparked the Cardinals to an important 75-64 win over Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA tournament. A crowd of 5,698 was on hand at the KFC Yum! Center.
A reporter said afterward that Mariya made a motion like she was putting pistols in a holster after another long 3-pointer. “I was so happy because Coach always stresses how we need to get in the gym. After the ACC Tournament I’ve been in the gym as much as I can, so to finally see the hard work paying off … So I don’t even know what happened, really. I’m going to have to look at the replays, but it just came out.”
Walz added that she could have turn cartwheels as far as he was concerned. “As we keep telling them, shooters shoot,” he said. “What I did is I told her after we came back from the ACC Tournament, I’m like, Mariya, if you trust me with anything, when you shoot, follow your shot. Just run after it. Shoot it and go after it.
Asia Durr was thrilled after the win, which sent Tennessee home for the first time in the second round in 22 appearances in the NCAA tournament.
“We didn’t know that, but they do have a great team. I was just so excited,” said Durr. “We fought hard. This was a great game. Our fans are so amazing and I’m so happy to be here.”
Myisha Hines-Allen came through her umpteenth double-double, pulling down 13 rebounds to going with 14 points. Pumping a fist, it seemed, only every other rebound. “I just kept telling myself one more stop, one more stop, and we’re going to be that much closer to a win,” she said.
“We were able to do it in front of an amazing crowd. The crowd was loud. When we were down, they were still with us, even when we were up, they were still with us. We were able to get this win not only for ourselves and for our confidence going into our next game, but for our fans as well.”