CRAWFORD | Late night "nite, nite:" Durr, Louisville down Stanford to reach Elite Eight
Asia Durr led Louisville to a convincing victory over Stanford, earning the top-seeded Cardinals a berth in Sunday's Elite Eight in the NCAA Lexington Regional.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) – The game was later than University of Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz hoped for. He might’ve forgotten that his leading scorer’s favorite on-court saying is, “Nite, nite.”
Asia Durr got into one of those dream zones against No. 4 seed Stanford Friday night, and the Cardinals sailed past Stanford, 86-59 before a crowd of 5,715 in Rupp Arena in the NCAA Lexington Regional Sweet 16. They advance to an Elite Eight game against Oregon State Sunday at noon for a berth in the Final Four.
Durr finished with 24 points, five assists and four rebounds, and Stanford had no answer for her.
"she just exudes confidence, and she'll take any shot and think it's going to go in," Stanford senior Brittany McPhee said. "She was feeling it tonight, and she has range from anywhere, so she's just a great player."
The victory was Louisville's 35th, a school record, and the fashion in which the Cardinals earned it leads you to believe they might not be finished. Stanford's previous worst loss of the season was to Connecticut -- 25 points. The Cardinal also lost to Ohio State by 20 -- a team Louisville beat in overtime.
"There are a lot of things that were very impressive about their team." Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "I thought they passed the ball very well. They shot the ball well. In the first half they were like 64 percent, and I mean, they -- our defense, we were not aggressive enough. We didn't keep them off the glass well enough. We didn't take care of the ball well enough. But that's a credit to them. They have an All-American in Asia Durr, and she's, I think, a candidate for national Player of the Year. She had a great game tonight. We worked hard on her, but she still found spots and was able to knock down her shot."
Both teams opened hot through a blistering first quarter that saw Louisville shoot 65 percent and Stanford 73. In the second, Louisville’s defense began to stabilize midway through the period and the Cardinals led 42-31 at the break.
The second half was all Louisville. The Cardinals held Stanford scoreless for more than four minutes in one stretch – a string of 11 straight misses – and extended their lead to 21 by the end of the period on a three-quarter court pass from Durr to Myisha Hines-Allen, which she converted to an acrobatic layup.
"We just played hard," said Walz, who is taking Louisville to its fourth Elite Eight. "The kids were dialed in, they knew what they were supposed to do, and I thought they executed extremely well."
Louisville was too quick and athletic for Stanford, which has come to the Lexington Regional for two straight years and upset the No. 1 seed Notre Dame. Any thoughts of that were put to rest by a dominant Louisville third quarter.
"They played really physical," McPhee said. "They just came out and didn't back down, so it was difficult just to get open or just to get a handoff or something like that. They played really difficult defense."
The Cardinals got major performances from the expected sources. Hines-Allen finished with 17 points. Arica Carter finished with 13 points and Jazmine Jones had 10. Sam Fuehring had 9 points and 10 rebounds. The Cardinals shot 51.6 percent from the field, while holding Stanford to 43.9 -- including 34.4 percent shooting in the second half. The Cardinals outscored Stanford 18-0 in second-chance points and 22-6 in points off turnovers.
And now, they're one step away from a Final Four goal they set before the season began.
"We know we have to play a very, very talented Oregon State team on Sunday," Walz said. "Sure, they're excited because they get another opportunity to compete. But I'm telling you, and I've said it all year and everybody laughs. If we can keep winning, I'm telling you, we could win a National Championship, and our kids would want to play the next day because that's all we talk about is just one game at a time. We don't get caught up in the moment. Sure, will we sit there and enjoy this? Of course we will. We know there's bigger fish to fry. But I'm telling you, this group of kids, they love -- they just love being around each other. They love playing with each other, and we have fun. I mean, we literally have a good time. Life's too short."
But Hines-Allen -- who became just the third Louisville player to pass the 2,000 point milestone, joining Angel McCoughtry and Shoni Schimmel -- and her teammates want to extend this season a little longer.
"I'm super excited," she said. "I'm ready to get back to it and continue to work. We're not stopping here. We want to go to the Final Four. We want to compete for a National Championship, and we know we have to take care of business on Sunday, so it's going to start once we get back to the hotel with treating your body good, making sure whatever it is that our trainer needs us to do, we're doing it, so we have a chance to actually compete to get to a Final Four."
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