Greensboro, N.C. — The top seeded Louisville Cardinals held off Virginia Tech behind a stellar performance from its forwards.
Louisville’s leading scorer, Asia Durr, started out 0-of-8 from the field and picked up two fouls before knocking down her first bucket, a three-pointer, midway through the second frame.
With Durr rendered ineffective, Louisville struggled to keep up with Virginia Tech’s lights out shooting. Knocking down three triples in the first five minutes and seven in the first half alone, the Cardinals had its hands full.
“A lot of people stepped up in game when Asia was struggling from the field,” Hines-Allen said. “That’s what makes us such a great team because anyone can step up. It’s anyone’s game when we’re playing how we normally play.”
Most effective for the Hokies was freshman Aisha Sheppard who fired off four of Virginia Tech’s seven three-pointers.
Louisville looked to junior forward Sam Fuehring to keep the Cardinals in the game. Fuehring racked up nine points, on 4 – of – 6 shooting, and five rebounds. Her dominance on the defensive glass kept Virginia Tech from getting easy second chance points.
Despite picking up two fouls early in the first period and spending time on the bench, Louisville senior and former ACC Player of the Year, Myisha Hines-Allen started to heat up before the half. Hines-Allen only played 10 minutes in the first half, but she was able to contribute five points and two boards.
Nearly everything that could go wrong for Louisville in the first, did go wrong. The Cardinals could not find its groove. Players were in foul trouble. Durr only hit two field goals. Virginia Tech could not miss from beyond the arc. At the half, Louisville trailed 39 – 33.
“We knew they were going to give us their best shot,” Myisha Hines-Allen told the media. ”They are going to play hard for 40 minutes and we weren’t too caught up in the score. We knew what we had to do to adjust so we can win the game.”
And adjust it did. Louisville came out of the half re-energized and focused. Hines-Allen picked up nine easy points in the first five minutes, taking Louisville on a 7 – 0 run by herself. Hines-Allen, unfortunately, picked up her fourth foul with 4:54 remaining in the third quarter, but it did not phase the Cardinals.
Louisville extended the run, outscoring Virginia Tech 14 – 2 to take a 49 – 43 lead. The Cardinals collected 23 points in the third frame, 13 of which came from Louisville forwards, Fuehring and Hines-Allen.
But, the Hokies refused to quit. Taylor Emery, who was unconscious throughout the entire game, and Rachel Camp grabbed four quick points to bring Virginia Tech within two.
When the momentum started to shift, Fuehring provided a spark for the Cardinals, hitting a crucial jump-shot to lead Louisville on a 7- 0 run. Heading into the final period, Louisville held a 56 – 52 advantage.
Virginia Tech was able to pull within one, 60 – 59, before Fuehring and Hines-Allen led Louisville to another 7 – 0 run. Hines-Allen grabbed five quick points firing off a three-pointer and grabbing a layup.
Louisville coach Jeff Walz joked in the post game press conference that the team said a prayer when Hines-Allen fired off the triple.
Hines-Allen responded, “it was answered.”
With 3:40 remaining and the momentum in Louisville’s favor, the game seemed over.
However, in March, nothing is as it seems. Emery, refused to go down without a fight. The junior guard connected on two triples and a layup to, again, bring Virginia Tech within striking distance. But, it was too late.
Despite outscoring Louisville, 11 – 6 in the final three minutes, the Cardinals held on to grab a 73 – 70 victory.
Virginia Tech’s phenomenal three point shooting kept the Cardinals on its toes until the last second.
Louisville had four players notch double-figures: Myisha Hines-Allen earned her 15th double-double on the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Sam Fuehring picked up 17 points on 6 – of – 10 shooting to go along with six boards. Jazmine Jones added 12 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Asia Durr finally found her shot and finished with 10 points on 3 – of – 19 shooting.
For the Hokies, four players also grabbed double-digits: Taylor Emery led all-scorers with 27 points and six rebounds. Rachel Camp added 14 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Aisha Sheppard knocked down 12 points. Regan Magarity rounded out the top-scorers with 10 points and seven rebounds.
The top seeded Louisville Cardinals take on the fifth seeded NC State Wolfpack in the Semifinals tomorrow at noon.