BOZICH | Louisville beats Boise State, 74-42, faces Marquette Sunday in NCAA Tournament
Ahead by only 10 at halftime, Louisville attacked the rim in the third quarter and the Cards rolled into the second round of the NCAA Tournament by defeating Boise State.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – For 20 minutes the University of Louisville women’s basketball team didn’t look like a team that understood One seeds have overwhelmed 16 seeds by an average of nearly 47 points in eight games over the last two NCAA Tournaments. They didn't look like a team about to beat Boise State, 74-42, in the Cards' NCAA Tournament opener.
At halftime Louisville, a one-seed for the first time, led. 32-22.
That’s not the road to winning by 47. That’s the way to winning by 20 and having people wonder if the team had lost its edge during its 12 days off since the Cardinals won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
"We came out flat," Louisville forward Sam Fuehring said.
Boise State, the 16 seed, played Jeff Walz’s team even in the second quarter. Two Louisville starters failed to score. Two reserves had 17 of Louisville’s points.
"We went in at halftime, thinking they were getting in trouble," Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said.
It was too soon to signal an Upset Alert. But the Cardinals were a long way from cruise control. Remember this: Three Number One seeds won by 50 or more in the 2017 women's tournament.
Eighty-seven seconds changed things -- and put Louisville on its way to playing Marquette in the second round Sunday.
This is how Louisville started the third quarter. Driving 12-foot basket by Erica Carter (her first points). Layup by Myisha Hines-Allen (her first points). Steal and a layup by Asia Durr. Driving layup by Carter. Everything within 12 feet or less of the rim.
Eight Louisville points and no Boise State points in 87 seconds.
"It's a 10-point game at the half and then we were able to come out defensively and get some things going," Walz said.
Presnell scrambled to call timeout. Too late. The Cardinals finally grasped Walz’s message that they didn’t require an EZ pass to attack the rim. All lanes were open.
Take it to the rim. Keep taking it to the rim. Take it to the rim one more time.
Louisville surged to a 74-42 victory in their opening tournament game.
"That's one of the things we were focused on," said Louisville forward Myisha Hines-Allen. "Trying to get the ball inside and score inside because we have phenomenal post players who can score and make moves."
"There's a reason they're a Number One seed," Presnell said. "It thought we came out soft in the third quarter ... We knew they would up the intensity, up their level of performance. Would we be able to go up there with them?"
No, they would not.
Louisville passed the ball crisply, earning assists on 18 of 30 field goals. Fuehring (a starter) and Kylee Shook (a reserve) led Louisville with 14 points on a day when Durr, the ACC player of the year, scored nine, missing 10 of 14 field-goal attempts. Durr usually scores twice that. Hines-Allen, generally the Cards' second-leading scorer, had four points, nearly 10 under her average. The Louisville bench outscored Boise, 33-6.
"That's the encouraging thing," Walz said. "I'm just telling you, for me, I don't look at it as, man, we got problems. I'm excited to know we just scored 74 points. Asia gets nine. Myisha gets four and we're able to extend the lead."
Boise decided its only path to victory was to defeat Louisville from distance. The Broncos attempted 30 of their 59 shots from beyond the three-point line. They made 4 of 30, 13.3 percent. It was Boise's second worst shooting performance from three this season. It was also the fourth time this season that the Louisville defense forced the opponent to miss at least 80 percent of its shots from distance.
The Cards outscored the Broncos, 27-8, in the third quarter. Walz used the fourth quarter to work more reserves into the game and prepare for Louisville’s second-round game.
Shook's 14 points were the most she has scored since Nov. 24. She made both of her three-point attempts after making only one in the previous six games.
"I just tried to go to the open area because Coach Walz is always telling me to make basketball cuts," Shook said. "I just kind of found the open spot. I do practice all the way around the three-point line, but it was just open today so that's where I popped."
Marquette defeated Dayton, 84-65, in the second semifinal. The Cards will play the Golden Eagles Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center. The game time has not been announced.
Until Friday, Presnell had only seen Louisville on video. After playing the third-ranked Cards, the Boise coach was asked if he had seen anything in person that he missed in the film room.
"Well, you know, I was asked before the game a couple of days ago or whatever, do you see any weaknesses or anything?" Presnell said.
"Yeah, I saw a few things. But not for us."
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