The essence of any scouting report on the University of Louisville women’s basketball team has to be to attack early and often, build as big a lead as possible, and then hang on for dear life because the Cardinals will eventually come to life. Withstanding the first rally is the key.

UofL again appeared to be going through the motions in the opening minutes Monday, this time against Duke, falling behind 11-2, thanks to four turnovers in five offensive segments. Again needing Coach Jeff Walz to call an early timeout to calm them down, get them focused. They would finally get their first field goal on a layup by Mariya Moore around the 14-minute mark.

Sherrone Vails has a decent game.
Sherrone Vails was stellar.

Eleven minutes later, the Cardinals had reduced the deficit to two points, trailing 18-16 with three minutes remaining in the first half. That was as close as they would get, Duke winning 66-58 to knock the Cardinals out of a tie for first place in the conference — and probably out of a top 10 national ranking.

If there was a positive for UofL, it was the surprising play of Sherrone Vails against Duke’s big players, refusing to yield or allow a point during her six minutes in the second half. Two points, two rebounds and an assist did hurt either.

Also had to love the toughness of Emmonnie Henderson, despite her four fouls. She actually had four assists and a couple of steals to go with her four rebounds.

Have to wonder how many more games Shawnta’ Dyer will get the starting nod, after managing zero rebounds and one of four free throw attempts in 12 minutes.

Those slow starts will continue to become more difficult to overcome.

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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.