The No. 1 seeded Louisville Cardinals punched its ticket to the Elite Eight after a stellar defensive performance knocked out the No. 4 seeded Oregon State Beavers.
“Louisville is an excellent team, and they just made the plays to win tonight. That’s what great teams do,” Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said. “I loved our effort tonight. I thought we played an excellent game with the exception of shooting the ball. The ball just didn’t fall, and that’s basketball.”
The Cardinals certainly looked excellent in the first frame. Louisville came out of the gate hot behind Asia Durr and Sam Fuehring. The two seniors led the Cardinals on a 13 – 4 run in the first four minutes.
Louisville was able to break through Oregon State’s defense to shoot 50% from the field and 50% from 3-point range. The Cardinals held a 21 – 15 advantage at the end of the first.
Fuehring, who had hit 11 3-pointers on the season, knocked down her third 3-pointer of the match early in the second quarter.
Fuehring credited her sharp shooting from beyond the arc to her coaches and teammates giving her confidence.
“It was all shootaround really in preparing for the game,” Fuehring said. “That’s why I shot it and it went down, so I just kept shooting it.”
Durr added, “I’ve said it all year long, like my teammates can score. That goes to show you that’s what they do. I’m very confident in them and very proud of Sam for showing off that three-point shot.”
Arica Carter knocked down back-to-back triples for the Cardinals, giving Louisville its largest lead, 30 – 19.
However, midway through the quarter, it became a serious defensive battle on both ends of the court. The Beavers held the Cardinals scoreless for the final five minutes in the second quarter. While Louisville limited Oregon State to only 4 points during that span.
Oregon State effectively kept Durr from getting good looks and scoring. The senior went 2 – of – 6 from the field in the first half.
Despite the freeze out, the Cardinals held a 30 – 23 advantage at the break.
I felt like we got a lot of really good looks on the outside,” Oregon State’s Mikayla Pivec said. “They were helping on the drives, and we had that kickback and we also had opportunities for the guards to hit threes, and they just weren’t falling for us today. We’ve had a little bit of a stretch in this last month where we haven’t shot is as well as we usually do.”
Both teams came out pretty stagnant in the third frame. But, a 6 – 2 run from Louisville gave the Cardinals its largest lead, 36 – 24.
Oregon State junior, Pivec, scored 5 early points for the Beavers to cut the Louisville lead to 9. But, Louisville’s offense came alive in the second half of the quarter.
Durr sparked an 8 – 0 run for Louisville, as the Cardinals outscored the Beavers 14 – 5 in the third frame to take a 44 – 28 advantage.
Oregon State battled to bring the score within 10 points, but another huge run for Louisville ended the Beaver’s Elite Eight hopes.
Louisville’s ability to get out in transition and speed up Oregon State was ultimately the difference maker. The Cardinals advanced to the Elite Eight in a 61 – 44 decision.
Louisville was led by seniors Asia Durr and Sam Fuehring. Durr notched 17 points, while adding 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Fuehring joined the 1,000 point club for the Cardinals as she also tallied 17 points to go along with 9 rebounds.
The Cardinals will face the Connecticut Huskies on Sunday at Noon.