The third game of the season is far too early to be drawing any conclusions but it was hard not to be impressed after watching the University of Louisville smother LSU 88-67 Thursday in a semifinal game of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
There’s a lot to like about this team, starting with the vast improvement of Asia Taylor who has finally recovered from the hip surgery that made her miss last season. Asia is healthy, probably for the first time since she arrived three years ago, and she is impressive. Dominating actually.
Taylor is quick and smooth when she’s at full strength. Deadly when she’s on. Everywhere, scoring early and often, leading all scorers with 23 points, making 10 of 16 field goals and three of four free throw attempts. Ten rebounds and two steals, too.
Bria Smith has returned from her bruising sophomore season, seemingly stronger and faster, more confident on those moves to the basket, finishing her shots. It helps, too, that the refs are calling more of the contact. That alone should make life easier for one who took a lot of body blows last season. She was good for 15 points, including a three-pointer.
Shoni Schimmel is magical in creating new ways to pass the ball, finding open teammates at break neck speed and in impossible situations. Sister Jude is a player no opponent should ever take for granted. They combined for 18 points in this one.
Tia Gibbs is back, looking like a player one would find on a very special team, not making the scoring column but collecting five rebounds. Antonita Slaughter and Sara Hammond added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Lady Cards will face Oklahoma Sunday in the WNIT championship game at Norman, Okla. Game time is 4 p.m.