NEW ORLEANS (WDRB) -- The Voodoo that University of Louisville coach Jeff Walz and his gritty women's basketball team worked on the NCAA Tournament field finally ran its course against a Connecticut team that stormed through the tournament to win its eighth NCAA championship.
The score was not close. The Huskies rolled past the Cardinals 93-60, after using an early 19-0 run to break the game open after six minutes.
U of L had shocked women's college basketball with its run. It knocked off No. 1 Baylor. It toppled tradition-rich Tennessee to reach the Final Four. And in the national semifinal, erased a 12-point deficit to upset Cal, becoming the first No. 5 seed ever to reach the women's title game.
But UConn was another story. All tournament, Walz had found a way to identify opponents' weaknesses and exploit them, urging his team to phenomenal outside shooting and courageous play against highly-favored opponents.
But the Huskies never cracked the door. They gave U of L no opportunities, used their length to shut down the Cardinals' perimeter shooting and used superior size to break down U of L defensively.
U of L could work no more magic.
Still, for the Cardinals, the magic was reaching this moment. In the crowd was men's coach Rick Pitino, who came to New Orleans after his team won a national title. Also in the crowd was U of L football coach Charlie Strong, whose team won a Sugar Bowl in this city.
U of L became just the third program to advance its women's and men's team to the title game in the same season, and the first ever to do that combined with a BCS bowl victory.
"They made all of Louisville and our university proud," Pitino said.
The Cards got 15 points and five rebounds from sophomore Sara Hammond, who led the team in both categories. No other U of L player reached double digits. Shoni Schimmel, dogged by UConn's defense, managed just 3 of 15 shooting and finished with nine points.
UConn, meanwhile, put five players in double figures, led by Breanna Stewart's 23.
U of L finishes the season 29-9, reaching the Final Four and title game for the second time in school history. And the Cards' Antonita Slaughter was named to the Final Four All-Tournament team, the only non-UConn player to make it.
Read more on the U of L women's tournament run, including comments from the players and coach Jeff Walz, a bit later on WDRB.com.
Tuesday, August 26 2014 10:16 PM EDT2014-08-27 02:16:12 GMT
Teddy Bridgewater says thank you to U of L students in an ad in its student paper. Eric Crawford photo.
Teddy Bridgewater had one more classy move for University of Louisville students and fans -- he said Thank You with an ad in the semester's first edition of The Louisville Cardinal student newspaper.More >>
Teddy Bridgewater had one more classy move for University of Louisville students and fans -- he said Thank You with an ad in the semester's first edition of The Louisville Cardinal student newspaper. More >>