LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — University of Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz makes his players shoot 50 free throws in practice for every one they miss in a game. After Wednesday's 60-50 win over Temple in the KFC Yum! Center, the Cardinals may be shooting free throws well into June.
They went 12 of 26, but still weathered their poorest shooting night — and lowest-scoring game of the season — to improve to 24-2, 12-1 in the American Athletic Conference.
"It definitely wasn't a game you would want to bring your son or daughter to and say `Hey watch how they shoot free throws, this is what you want to do,'" Walz said. "I hope no one had the intention of doing that when they came tonight."
Walz watched even two of his best free-throw shooters struggle. Asia Taylor, a 79 percent shooter from the line this season, went 2-of-8. Shoni Schimmel, an 82 percent foul shooter, was 6-for-10.
"Its unbelievable, I've never seen Asia go 2-for-8 from the free throw line before," Walz said. "Shoni goes 6-for-10. It's focus and concentration, so it's an area we are going to have to continue to get back in. They know that they have to make 50 free throws for every one that they miss. That's what we do, so Asia will be in there for awhile."
In their first game since an 81-64 loss at UConn, the Cards were cold in about every way. They struggled to make shots from long range and in the mid-range, as well as at the free-throw line. About the only bright spot for Walz was that they hung tough on defense and won a game they might've been in danger of losing a couple of seasons ago.
"I thought defensively we did a pretty nice job," Walz said. "Offensively we just missed a lot of shots. Tia (Gibbs) had some great looks. She has been making those but unfortunately, they didn't go down for us. Asia misses two free throws and then we get her a nice little shot in the paint that went halfway down and popped out. Then Shoni makes a great drive and throws it to Sara (Hammond) and she one dribbles and turns it over. She had a four footer that she could have shot. Those are the things we are going to show them and those are the things they can't do. You can't give people second and third opportunities, you have to be able to put somebody away."
The Cards got 21 points on 7 of 20 shooting from Schimmel, who made just 1 of 7 three-point tries. Antonita Slaughter made 3 of 5 from three-point range and finished with 12 points. Taylor had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
"We know we're going to have nights like that, where we're not going on that big run and stuff, but it's just about what you do in those times," Taylor said. "Do you just quit and let them go on a huge run or do you just maintain and grind it out until you can slowly push your lead up? I think we did a good job of not folding."
Walz said he thinks his team shook off the disappointment of its loss at UConn, which snapped a 16-game winning streak, a school record.
"They responded really well in practice," he said. "I was really pleased with how we practiced the past two days. We went through film, looked at some really good things we had done, looked at some things we had to work on but unfortunately, did not see a big improvement at the rebounding end. That is something we knew up at UConn that really hurt us. So I am disappointed in that (Temple outrebounded U of L 41-40), and that is something we will have to continue to work on, because we are playing a very athletic Memphis team (on Sunday). I know they just lost to Cincinnati tonight, so they are not going to be too pleased. It's going to be a battle."
The Cards visit Memphis at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in a game televised by ESPNU.