LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – With head coach Jeff Walz serving his one-game NCAA Tournament suspension from the nearby Side Bar tavern, the University of Louisville women's basketball team had no trouble taking care of business without him inside the KFC Yum! Center.
The top-seeded Cardinals began their quest for a second straight Final Four by leading No. 16 seed Robert Morris 21-4 after one quarter, holding the Colonials scoreless for a 10-minute stretch at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second on their way to a 69-34 victory.
The win moved Louisville’s record to 30-3 on the season, and sets up a matchup with the winner of Michigan’s game against Kansas State. The winner of Sunday’s game will advance to the regional in Albany, N.Y.
Three keys to today’s blowout win for Louisville:
1). AGGRESSIVE APPROACH. Louisville didn’t waste any time taking control, keeping a heavy underdog from being inspired to hang close. Asia Durr had seven points in the game’s first four minutes and the Cardinals’ defense was a menace.
Credit the Cardinal coaching staff, including Walz, for preparing the team for this moment with the head coach on the sidelines, right down to a full dress rehearsal during the team’s non-conference schedule, in which Walz stepped aside and let assistant coach Steph Norman run the team, handle the timeouts and make in-game adjustments.
2). FEAR THE FUEHRING. Senior Sam Fuehring came back from the ankle injury that sidelined her for the final three quarters of the ACC Championship game with a vengeance.
She went 9-of-9 from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds, scoring inside and out to help offset the scoring threat lost by the absence of injured captain Arica Carter. She finished the game with 19 points.
The Cardinals were plus-33 with Fuehring in the game, the highest number on the team.
Louisville also got 19 points from Asia Durr and 10 off the bench from Bionca Dunham.
3). CARTER SITS. The senior guard ran full-speed in practice on Thursday, but with no real reason to bring her back, she sat out the game as a precaution.
Clearly, she wasn’t much needed. That’s not likely to be the case for any games moving forward.
4). BENCH DELIVERS. For Louisville to get as far as it wants to in this tournament, the bench is going to have to contribute.
It got off to a good start on Friday, contributing 23 points. Freshman Mykasa Robinson got the start in place of Carter, to allow Dana Evans to continue her role as the ACC’s top “sixth man.” Evans wound up with 13 points and still played 27 minutes.
Seygan Robins played 14 minutes off the bench.
5). STORMIN’ NORMAN. Also don’t forget the leadership of the Louisville assistant, who has been a major part of building the program that Louisville has built. She has spent 12 seasons under Walz, and he had no reservation about leaving the team in her hands.
Clearly, he’d tell you from the tavern across the street, he was right about that.
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