(Photo Credit: GoCards.com)
Louisville, KY — The Louisville Cardinals finished the regular season with a huge 65-36 victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers.
The Cardinals came out strong in the first period out scoring the Pittsburgh Panthers, 27-6. Louisville won the tip and scored first as Myisha Hines-Allen drove to the bucket for two.
Hines-Allen grabbed a quick six points and Briahanna Jackson added two to put the Cardinals up, 8-0, and forcing a Pittsburgh timeout.
The Louisville defense held the Panthers scoreless until the 4:37 mark when Brenna Wise drove to the bucket for a lay-up, bringing the score to 14-2.
Pitt continued to struggle as they faced another two-minute scoring drought. Louisville was able to drive up the score, 22-2, before Yacine Diop could connect on a jump shot to give Pitt four points.
Diop was able to grab another two points for the Panthers as she connected on a lay-up. At the end of the first period, Louisville held a stealthy 21 point lead.
Hines-Allen racked up 13 points in the first period, the most of any Cardinal in a period this season.
The Cardinals lost Cortnee Walton in the first period as she appeared to suffer an injury on her non-shooting hand.
Coach Jeff Walz advised the media that Walton may have dislocated her pinky. He stated, “As I told her, she’s got ten fingers, you don’t need all ten.”
The second period, much like the first, saw a single digit Pitt scoring effort. Diop struck first connecting on a jumper, but the Cardinals quickly quieted the Panthers’ roar as Louisville took off on an 11-0 run, holding Pitt scoreless for four minutes.
Diop ended the drought for the Panthers connecting on one-of-two from the charity stripe.
Louisville limited Pittsburgh to four second period points, 10% shooting from the field, while the Cardinals picked up 15 points connecting on 60% from the floor.
Diop paced the Panthers grabbing three points, but only hit 1-of-6.
The Cardinals held the Panthers to 10 points in the first half as Pitt connected on only 14.8% of their shots from the field. Louisville held the advantage on the glass out rebounding Pitt, 26-8. The Cardinals pulled down 22 defensive rebounds.
Myisha Hines-Allen led all scorers in the first half picking up 17 points on 8-of-8 shooting from the field and pulled down eight boards. Briahanna Jackson fell close behind racking up 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field.
Yacine Diop led the Panthers tallying seven points and Brenna Wise grabbed a team-best four rebounds.
“I thought we passed the ball extremely well,” Coach Walz told the media of the Cardinals first half dominance, “When we step into our shots we’re a pretty good shooting team. So yeah, I was really pleased with how we started the game.”
Pitt came out of the half looking to mount a comeback. Hines-Allen struck first to put the Cardinals up, 44-10, but an 8-0 run by Pitt swayed the momentum in the Panthers’ favor, holding Louisville scoreless for nearly four minutes.
The Panthers rallied in the third period, out scoring Louisville 14-11 and converting five Louisville turnovers into six points. Pittsburgh held Louisville to 23.5% shooting as the Cardinals only connected on 4-of-17 from the floor.
Stasha Carey was crucial for the Panthers in the third period grabbing five points and one block. Diop was able to aid Carey putting up four points, pulling down three rebounds and grabbing two steals.
Despite the offensive effort by the Panthers, Louisville cruised into the final period with a huge 53-24 lead.
The Cardinals buckled down on defense in the fourth period limiting Pitt to 3-of-15 from the field, 2-of-7 from the three-point line. Erin DeGrate had a tremendous final period for the Cardinals as she added five points, hitting 2-of-3 from the floor and pulling down three defensive boards.
Ayisha Bugg tried to bring the Panthers back in contention as she connected on back to back shots from beyond the arc, but the damage had been done. Pitt could not erase the huge first half deficit and the Cardinals sailed to victory, 65-36.
Although, the Cardinals won big, Coach Walz was not pleased with his teams effort in the second half, “I challenge our kids, if you want to be elite you can’t play the score. You got to come out and play the clock. Unfortunately, at times I thought we tried to play the score and try to get too cute, try to do too much with the ball. That’s my challenge to them because we have it in us.”
The Cardinals had two players post double-figures: Myisha Hines-Allen paced the Cardinals racking up 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting. Hines-Allen attacked the glass for Louisville pulling down 13 boards (11 defensive) to earn her ninth double-double of the season. Briahanna Jackson added 12 points on 5-of-7 from the field and dishing out four assists.
Mariya Moore was quiet from the floor on the evening grabbing only three points, but she dished out a team-best five assists.
Pittsburgh was led by Yacine Diop who posted a team-high 12 points on 4-of-22 shooting. Diop was able to grab a team-best five steals. Brenna Wise dominated the glass for the Panthers pulling down 11 rebounds (8 defensive).
The tenth-ranked Louisville Cardinals finished the regular season 24-6, 15-1 in ACC play. Their record is good enough to earn Louisville the No. 2 seed heading into next week’s ACC Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina.
** Also seen on Swish Appeal