The top-seeded Louisville Cardinals powered through a sluggish first half to blow out the 16th seeded Boise State Broncos, 74 – 42. With Louisville’s leading scorers struggling to grab buckets today, the Cardinals looked to its bench for momentum.
Louisville head coach Jeff Walz let his feelings be known early when he pulled a few of the Cardinals’ starters and replaced them with Kylee Shook and Bianca Dunham. Coach Walz was not getting what he wanted from his starters. But, Shook and Dunham turned the game around making an immediate impact.
Dunham and Shook combined for 10 of Louisville’s 21 first quarter points. Shook knocked down back-to-back triples to put Louisville up, 17 – 8.
“The bench did a great job,” Senior Myisha Hines-Allen said. “Kylee and Bionca came off the bench and gave us a spark. That’s when we went on the run.”
The second frame was stagnant for both teams. Louisville made only five field goals for 11 points.
The Cardinals started out 0 – of – 3 from the field in the first four minutes. Louisville’s leading scorer, Asia Durr, was 1 – of – 5 in the game. Without Durr knocking down shots, the Cardinals struggled to keep the offensive momentum from the first quarter.
But, a second wave hit Louisville, pushing the Cardinals out to a 32 – 22 lead at the half.
“You know, it’s a ten-point game at the half, and then we’re able to come out defensively in the second and kind of get things going,” Coach Walz said. “It’s the first game in the NCAA tournament. There are always going to be jitters, some excitement. We missed some shots we normally don’t miss, but then we finally started to get things going.”
It was truly a tale of two halves. Louisville came out hot in the third period. The Cardinals put up nine unanswered points in the first minute to take a 41 – 22 lead. Boise State had to take a timeout with 8:33 remaining in the frame.
Louisville was not only holding the Broncos scoreless, but the Cardinals were not even letting Boise State make shots. Into the first timeout, Boise State was 0 – of – 1 with two turnovers, while Louisville was 4 – of – 5 from the field. The Broncos did not score its first points in the second half until Marta Hermida connected on a jump shot.
Unfortunately, any shift in momentum the Bronco’s were hoping to get from Hermida’s jump shot was quickly squashed as Louisville got out to another 9 – 0 run.
The Cardinals blew the doors off, outscoring Boise State, 18 – 4, into the first media timeout of the second half. Louisville went up, 50 – 26.
Louisville found its success attacking the glass and the paint. The Cardinals grabbed 20 – of its – 27 third quarter points in the paint, while out rebounding the Broncos, 11 – 3.
“That’s one of the things that we were focused on, trying to get the ball inside and score inside,” Hines-Allen said. “We have phenomenal post players who can score and make moves.”
Despite turning the ball over six times in the third, the Cardinals managed to hold Boise State to 27% shooting. Louisville’s defense was not allowing the Bronco’s to capitalize on its mistakes.
Behind a near perfect third frame, the Cardinals ran out to a 59 – 30 lead.
Louisville grabbed another six unanswered points midway through the final period. The Boise State Broncos played a good game, but could not handle Louisville’s pressure.
The Cardinals head to the second round behind a 74 – 42 win.
Despite the huge win, Coach Walz had nothing but praises for the Boise State Broncos.
“I can see why they’re successful as they are great, great ball club. I thought they competed. I thought they played hard. We just did a really good job defensively on contesting a lot of shots.”
The Cardinals had four players notch double-figures: Sam Fuehring earned a double-double on 14-points and 11-rebounds. Kylee Shook also grabbed a double-double with 14-points and 10-rebounds. Jazmine Jones went 5 – of – 6 from the field for 10-points, while pulling down six boards. Rounding out the top scorers is Bianca Dunham who dropped 10-points.
Despite only scoring four points, Myisha Hines-Allen led all players with 14-rebounds.
The top-seeded Louisville Cardinals will face the eight-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles on Sunday. Time is TBA.
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