LOUISVILLE | No glitz, lots of guts for Louisville women in 18-p - WDRB 41 Louisville News

LOUISVILLE | No glitz, lots of guts for Louisville women in 18-point comeback win

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Louisville's Briahanna Jackson and Myisha Hines-Allen, who combined for 45 of the Cardinals' 70 points, celebrate near the end of Louisville's 70-61 win over IUPUI. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) Louisville's Briahanna Jackson and Myisha Hines-Allen, who combined for 45 of the Cardinals' 70 points, celebrate near the end of Louisville's 70-61 win over IUPUI. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Starting lineup video productions with loud music, louder announcers and spotlights are all the rage in college basketball.

But before the University of Louisville women’s basketball team took the court Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center, there was none of that. It was an old-school, basic, bare-bones production, with a player from Louisville, then a player from IUPU Indianapolis introduced.

It’s all part of the back-to-basketball campaign Cardinals’ coach Jeff Walz instituted in the wake of his team’s lackluster loss at Kentucky Thursday night.

How effective it was, however, is open to debate. When the Cardinals trailed by 18 less than four minutes into the second half, it looked as if Walz might want to get One Direction or somebody in to play some introductions.

The Cards were headed in the wrong direction. That hard, cold surface Walz kept stamping his foot into on the sidelines was rock bottom.

But say this for a Louisville women’s team that has struggled more than anyone felt they would with a top-ranked recruiting class and No. 8 preseason ranking: They are not without some resilience.

They dug in, started playing better defensively, executed better on offense, and stormed back to not only erase the deficit, but pull away to a 12-point lead late before winning 70-61.

You can’t call it a turning point. Sophomore Myisha Hines-Allen, who finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, would agree.

“I don’t think we can say that,” Hines-Allen said. “I thought (a win at No. 22-ranked) Michigan State was a turning point. Every game is its own challenge.”

The Cardinals jumped out to a 9-5 lead, and Walz thought the starting lineup thing might’ve been a good move for his team.

“I told the kids, we’re done with all that pomp and circumstance and making everything look all nice,” Walz said. “I don’t want to be about that. . . . I told them, you’ve got to inspire people to want to come watch you play.”

But after that quick lead, there was very little inspiring happening. The Cardinal guards couldn’t get going. They committed 16 turnovers in the first half, gave up 75 percent shooting for much of the first quarter and trailed 36-22 at halftime.

After they opened a 44-26 lead just 3:15 into the third quarter, Walz called timeout and said he wasn’t really sure what to tell his team.

“There wasn’t much to say,” he said. “I didn’t know what to say. What do you say? It’s just personal pride now, people. You’ve got to look yourself in the mirror and have a gut-check, and decide either I can either blame everybody, or I’m not going to let my man score, and I’m going to play good team defense and be in help.”

The Cardinals started helping each other. A quick 13-2 run grew to a 30-8 tidal wave over the next 12 minutes. The Cards went from 18 down to 12 points up in the final minute.

Hines-Allen was the most consistent presence. She made 9 of 18 shots. But guard Briahanna Jackson was the second-half spark. She scored 21 of her game-high 23 points in the second half, including seven of the Cardinals’ final eight points.

What changed? For one thing, personnel. Walz used only one substitute in the second half, freshman Asia Durr. Otherwise, it was Hines-Allen and Jackson, Mariya Moore, Cortnee Walton and point guard Arica Carter.

After all the first half turnovers, the Cards had only two in the second half.

Their 48-point second half was their highest-scoring of the season. They finished the game with a 26-18 edge in scoring in the paint, 29-19 off turnovers and 19-10 in second half points. Louisville got no points off the bench.

Moore’s three-pointer with 6:35 left in the game put the Cardinals up for good, and she finished with 12 points and five assists.

Walz said he was “really proud” of the way the team turned things around to come back. It was good for the Cardinal freshmen to see the difference defense can make, if only from a seat on the bench. But he knows he has to get them into the game.

“We can’t win, and win consistently, playing these types of minutes with these kids,” Walz said. “We’ve got to get our freshmen going. We’ve got to get them understanding the importance of guarding.”

It wasn’t so much about getting the kind of win that can turn your season around as about avoiding the kind of loss that could sending it falling further.

“It’s going to be a grind all year,” Walz said. “There’s no question about it. It’s going to be a flat-out grind. We’re going to have to figure out a way to score points, and we’re going to have to figure out how to get stops.”

As he left the interview room, Walz, in a nod to the 8,686 in attendance, said, “We have some hard-core fans, I’ll tell you that. I didn’t know if we’d have anybody here. You have to appreciate that.”

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