Kiki Jefferson kisses the Cardinal logo on Denny Crum Court on her Senior Night (Mike DeZarn photo).
Seniors Kiki Jefferson, Sydney Taylor and Nina Rickards in perhaps their final game at the KFC Yum! Center (Mike DeZarn photo).

Kiki Jefferson, Sydney Taylor and Nina Rickards, unknowns a year ago, having weaved their way into the hearts of University of Louisville women’s basketball fans. Needing to go out in a positive way, cementing some positive vibes for the program. Putting their bodies on the line for the program

A big night with lots of tears, hugs, smiles, Senior Night for the UofL program. Everything on the line, the Cardinals needing to win to stay in the chase for a double-bye in the upcoming Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. A showdown against Florida State one of four teams competing for one of those spots.

Louisville would win the battle of a bruising physical confrontation, defeating Florida State 70-55 before a crowd of 7,932 at the KFC Yum! Center. A strong start, with a consistent effort, leaving little doubt who was the better team. FSU came into the game averaging an ACC-best 81 points per game. The Florida State output was the second lowest they have scored in a single game, only the third time this season they have been held to fewer than 60 points.

No, this was not the same team that had lost a second consecutive game at home the past two Sundays. The UofL women roaring out of the gate for an 8-0 lead with Nyla Harris scoring back-to-back layups. The Seminoles would cut the margin to two at the end of the first quarter but would be outscored by 15 points in the second quarter.

“We responded (to Sunday’s loss) with great effort and intensity,” said Coach Jeff Walz at the post-game press conference. “I’m proud of that. But I have to wonder what Sunday’s game at Notre Dame is going to look like. That game is going to start painting the picture of where this team is going to be come NCAA tournament time.”

Olivia Cochran and Taylor led the Cardinals’ offense with 16 points each. Cochran grabbed 11 rebounds and a block for her fourth double-double of the year. Jefferson  totaled 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Nyla Harris rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points and a career-best 15 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the year. The 15 rebounds were the most by a Louisville player in a single game this season.

Walz obviously believes his team has the potential for significant success. But he recognizes that the transfers have to gird themselves for a schedule that include formidable opponents game after game. He’s also hoping FSU is the beginning of a new level of toughness for his team. “Every game from here on out is going to be challenging, with no room for letdown.”

Toughness is the attribute this team needs to advance in the final weeks of the 2023-24 basketball season (Mike DeZarn photo).


Nyla Harris poses with a young fan after a game in which she pulled down 15 rebounds (Mike DeZarn photo).


Women’s basketball ranks high on this list of family entertainment for these folks (Mike DeZarn photo).



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By Charlie Springer

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

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