LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – For 30 minutes, the Louisville women’s basketball team gave the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed more than it wanted. The Cardinals led by eight points after one quarter, by 12 at halftime and by two at the end of three quarters.
But a massive run by what likely will wind up as the most prolific 3-point shooting team in women’s tournament history was too much for Louisville to hold off, and the Cardinals’ season ended one stop from the Final Four, in a 78-63 Elite Eight loss in San Antonio's Alamodome.
The loss ends the brilliant career of Louisville’s Dana Evans, who finished as the game’s leading scorer with 24 points on 6-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. But Evans was the only Louisville player to score in double figures and the only Louisville player to score in the game’s final five minutes, with a trio of 3-point shots Louisville’s only scoring.
"It's a tough way to go out, there's no question about it," Walz said. "Our goal was a Final Four. Unfortunately, we just fell one game short. Actually one half short. ... I'm really proud of this team. It's been a real challenge, and not just for us, but for every team that has been here. They really closed their circle of friends. It got to where I didn't even ask them what they did on days off, because I knew it was nothing. ... We executed as well as we could have in the first half, ran good stuff, got great shots, but eventually Stanford's size wore us down and we couldn't keep them off the backboard."
An Evans 3-pointer with 7:07 left in the third quarter gave Louisville its largest lead at 14. From then on, it was all Stanford. The Cardinal scored the next 13 points, cutting their deficit to one. Heading into the fourth quarter down just two, they outscored Louisville 16-4 to open the period and took command.
In all, Stanford outscored Louisville 52-25 in the second half.
It was a different story from the first half, when Louisville took the game to the Cardinal. Evans opened the game hot, and Louisville took Stanford out of what it wanted to do offensively.
Louisville shot 52% from the field in the first half, but many of those same shots did not fall in the second, and Stanford tightened up its defense.
As well, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, the winningest coach in women’s basketball history with 1,122 career victories, had a few more shooters to call on from the bench. The most important was Ashten Prechtel, who played only 16 minutes but went 6 for 6 from the field, including three from 3-point range, to score 16 points. For the game, Stanford outscored Louisville 38-24 in the pant and 21-15 off the bench.
"In the second half, Ashten Prechtel, Tara put her in the game," Walz said. "She won the game for them. ... In her 16 minutes, she was plus-27. ... You have to give credit to Stanford, tip your hat to Ashten, because she was remarkable. We missed some shots. And they are just relentless on the glass. They had zero second-chance points in the first quarter and finished with 23."
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