CRAWFORD | Moore gets tough, U of L women get comeback win over - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Moore gets tough, U of L women get comeback win over No. 17 UNC

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Everybody knew Mariya Moore was good. Now, she's getting tough.

That was the word from University of Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz on Saturday, after his eighth-ranked Cardinals improved to 22-3 with their fourth win of the season over a nationally ranked opponent.

Moore scored a game- and career-high 28 points as U of L erased a nine-point second-half deficit to beat No. 17 North Carolina 75-66 before a crowd of 13,155 in the KFC Yum! Center.

Moore scored from outside — making the Cards' only three three-point baskets — and beat the Tar Heels on driving baskets and by getting to the free-throw line, where she made 11 of 12. She grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists. The only blemish on her stat line was six turnovers, most of them early. But Walz isn't complaining about the McDonald's All-American freshman from Hercules, Calif.

She is the Cards' leading scorer, and has been all season. But she took it up a notch on Saturday, with more hard-nosed play when the team needed it.

“She's starting to get a little tougher,” Walz said. “She was a little soft when she first got here, and I've challenged her a few times. If things didn't go well for her, she'd put her head down. If she missed a few shots, she'd put her head down. And now she's learning to figure out a way to get to the free-throw line instead. She's coming up with some deflections. She passes the ball extremely well, her basketball IQ, her and Jude Schimmel's, are off the chart.”

Moore did not come off the court. She played all 40 minutes — the first U of L women's player to do that in a game this season.

“She's pretty tough,” North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “She had a lot of points, even at halftime. She was really tough in there and got to the foul line a lot too. She is definitely their best player without a doubt.”

Moore had reached double-figures in free-throws attempted a couple of times this season, but her 11 makes were the most she's had all season. Walz said he's been stressing for her to focus on driving to contact and finishing.

“I should do that more often,” she said. “I really don't know what happened. My coach told me to take it in if the shot's not there, so that's just what I did.”

The Cards got off to a rough start. They turned it over 11 times  in the first 12 minutes and trailed by 10 points twice before stabilizing to pull within three at the half. They lost Shawnta' Dyer to a sprained ankle in the second half, and freshman Myisha Hines-Allen, their talented freshman who ranks No. 11 nationally in field goal percentage at 57.1 percent, went just 3-for-8 from the field in the first.

Down by nine early in the second half, Moore hit a three, then a Jude Schimmel layup cut North Carolina's margin to four. After UNC built its margin back to seven points with 10:41 left, Hines Allen and Dyer hit back-to-back baskets in the post, then Emmonnie Henderson made a pair of free throws, and Moore hit two more to bring U of L within one.

Henderson helped turn the momentum with her rebounding and second-half scoring. With the Cards leading by three with just 1:18 to play, she grabbed an offensive rebound in traffic after Schimmel missed a layup, and the resulting post score from Sara Hammond gave the Cards the cushion they needed to pull away.

“I challenged them in (rebounding) and then turnovers (at halftime),” Walz said. “We were passing them out left and right like we were running a bakery. It's like you want an apple?  We'll give you an apple turnover. I mean it was awful. And you can't win against Carolina by throwing them the basketball.”

The win keeps U of L in play for a double-bye in the ACC Tournament. The Cards, at 10-2 in the ACC, are a game back of league leader Notre Dame in the loss column, tied with Duke and Florida State, the two teams who have handed them league losses.

“It's a big win for us and we're aware of that, because we're right now competing for a top four seed in the ACC tournament. If you're one of the top four, you get a double-bye, and that's what we'd like to have,” Walz said. “But at the same time, you can't take anyone for granted in this league. . . . I think our kids needed a win like this. I told them before the game started, we have to win by executing. We've got to pass the basketball, we've got to do the little things, we've got to rebound, we've got to make sure that we make that extra pass. You might have a good shot, but your teammate has an even better shot, and I thought we did that really well in the second half. We only ended up making 23 field goals, but we assisted on 16 of them, so that shows you that we're getting some things done by passing the ball.”

The Cards got 13 points from Hines-Allen, and eight each from Hammond, Henderson and Bria Smith. Stimuli had seven assists. The Cards went 26-30 from the free-throw line.

It was the first meeting for either program on the home court of the other. Hatchell left with a memorable first impression of the KFC Yum! Center.

“It's like Disneyland,” she said. “I'm going to tell you I've never seen so many bars in one place in all my life. I mean really, that's not me, but it's a different world now. I've never been in a basketball place where I've seen so many bars. Anyway, it is a nice arena, a lot of lights, and glitter and everything. But it's a nice place.”

She'll probably remember Moore, too.

The Cards will play in the KFC Yum! Center for the last time this season on Thursday, Feb. 26 against Boston College at 7 p.m. The Cards' Senior Night program will honor Jude Schimmel, and will be the school's second Native American Night.

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