Central Arkansas was dreaming big, playing in its first-ever NCAA tournament game, hoping to derail the University of Louisville women’s basketball team. Wanting some respect, eyeing an upset, wearing a lean and hungry look.

Myisha Hines-Allen for two more.
Myisha Hines-Allen for two more.

Making a good first impression, matching UofL basket for basket early, owning a 25-22 lead at the end of the first quarter. Gaining confidence, only to run into a brick wall three minutes into the second quarter.

That’s when Louisville would score 17 straight points, with Myisha Hines-Allen making good on a layup and a free throw to put UofL ahead 34-32. The ACC player of the year would score 11 of her game-high 25 points during the surge. Hines-Allen, who had seven rebounds would play only 23 minutes, the only thing preventing a 12th double-double this season.

Louisville would win 87-60 before a crowd of 5,823 at the KFC Yum! Center, advancing to the second round 2:30 p.m. Sunday against DePaul, which easily handled James Madison 97-67 in an earlier game.

Dakota Weatherford provides the spark.
Dakota Weatherford brings energy.

Credit Dakota Weatherford, a sparingly used former walk-on for keeping Louisville close early on, providing a much-needed spark in the second quarter. shaking the doldrums, sparking the Cardinals with a 3-pointer and three steals.

“She’s really the only player I’ve got right now that will dive on the floor after loose balls,” Walz said. “Whenever there’s a 50-50 ball, and you watched Dakota during that game, she’s on the floor.”

Hines-Allen concurred, “We started taking advantage of our advantage in the post,” she said. “and we started scoring better in the transition.”

As would Mariya Moore, “It’s really great, especially because we know how hard she works in practice,” she said. “Just to see it translate to the game is awesome.”

Weatherford transferred to Louisville from Evansville a year ago, thinking she had given up basketball until Walz discovered she was on campus. “It was definitely hard getting back out there after a year off, but I like it,” she said.

She’s still a blur to Central Arkansas.

Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.