Louisville, KY- The Louisville Women’s basketball team came into this year’s tournament as one of the hottest teams in all of college basketball. The Cards had come in winners of 22 of their last 24 ball games. After a tough loss to the Orange in the ACC tournament, the Cards pulled a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
While I assumed our game against Central Arkansas would be non-issue, I had a feeling our 2nd round matchup could be a battle. DePaul was an old foe from our Big East days who always seemed to have a pretty good team. James Madison came into the tournament a 5 loss team, winners of 20 straight. As of the last few years, JMU has been a good basketball team, and I knew the winner of this #6-#11 matchup would give Louisville fits.
Louisville started the 2nd period against Central Arkansas down 3 points, but outscored the Sugar Bears 29-9 in the 2nd which ultimately propelled the Cards to a 87-60 victory. Hines-Allen led the Cards with 25 points, and Mariah Moore added 16 points which was too much for the Sugar Bears to handle. In the other matchup, DePaul completely dominated JMU start to finish in a 97-67 game. DePaul shot over 50% from the floor and from beyond the arc. Louisville needed a good win against a tough DePaul team if they wanted to make the trip to Dallas.
The game against DePaul will forever be remembered for terrible officiating and some really questionable calls. Briahanna Jackson was called for a push with 14 seconds left, sending the Cards highest scorer to the bench with her 5th foul. This also sent DePaul to the free throw line in a tied ball game. Both players were going for the ball, and I didn’t see any contact outside of normal basketball contact. DePaul made one of two from the charity stripe, giving Louisville one final possession. With less than 5 seconds to go, Hines-Allen drove the lane into three DePaul defenders, sending one to the ground. The call was a charge, giving DePaul the ball back with 1.7 seconds. I personally agreed with the call. It sucks, don’t get me wrong. But it was just a few years back when Louisville surrounded Baylor and the nation’s best player all game long and got some calls going in our direction. It’s a tough call, but the defender’s feet were set and Myisha ran right into her.
Hindsight is 20/20, but DePaul should have been given a better seed. They are penalized by a weak Big East conference, but 7 of their 8 losses came to tournament bound teams, including Notre Dame, Baylor, and UConn.
Sitting at 1-4 just five games into the season, not many people predicted the Cards would turn things around and have the season they had. They are a team consisting of no seniors. Star Wars night was just something to do besides senior night. Next year’s team will consist of 7 McDonald’s All Americans. The future is bright for the Louisville Women’s Basketball program.
In the words of pep band director Al Greener, “We’ll be fine.”