Hailey Van Lith

Hailey Van Lith encourages teammates in a 2023 win over Boston College.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It was a curious moment, in the postgame handshake line after Hailey Van Lith had just scored 21 points to lead the Louisville women’s basketball team to a 73-51 win over Texas to reach the NCAA’s round of 16.

Texas guard Sonya Morris grabbed Van Lith’s hand and, a look at the postgame video suggests, said the words “honorable mention” to Van Lith. The Louisville guard was named an honorable mention All-American last week, not making the main All-American team after doing it a year ago.

As Van Lith walked on by, Mykasa Robinson and Olivia Cochran stopped Morris to say something, and the incident receded in the celebration of Louisville’s victory. But after the game, Van Lith was asked about what was said.

She chose not to blow the incident up.

“You know, I respect the Texas players,” Van Lith said. “I don't really want to speak on what happened at the end because I don't want it to dim down the fact that we played really, really well. I have all the respect in the world for Texas. No hard feelings. You know, sports can get chippy and the moment you play in the heat, and at the end of the day, I'm going to let it go. You know, no hard feelings. I assume that they'll do the same. And yeah, I'm just proud of our win. I don't want to focus on what happened at the end.”

It's probably not the same quote that Van Lith would have provided a year ago at tournament time. But Van Lith is maturing as a player and a person, according to her coach, Jeff Walz.

She has averaged 20.3 points over Louisville’s last 7 NCAA Tournament games, and has failed to score at least 20 in only one of those.

“The kid is a baller," Walz said. "The kid is in the gym, she works on her craft. She takes great pride in it. . . . But what I'm most proud of her for is these past two ballgames. You know, it's been the past month, month and a half, she let the game come to her. . . . She's been patient, not hunting shots. I'm really proud of her. I think the kid's an All-American."

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