Watching Louisville's slow start in their first post-season game one began to wonder if they were weighed down from carrying the hoop dreams of an entire city on their backs. Louisville committed 5 turnovers in the first 3 minutes but as Coach Walz said in his halftime interview "once we figured out which color jersey we were wearing things turned out better." The Cards started pushing the pace, playing ferocious defense, and getting points in transition. They held Georgia Tech scoreless in the final 4 minutes of the half and the ACC's leading scorer, Aaliyah Whiteside, to 2 points on 1 of 9 shooting for the half.
The Cards came out strong in the second half and maintained a 10 point lead but the Yellow Jackets wouldn't be swatted away that easily. At one point Louisville went ice cold and missed 9 of 11 shots and the lead was whittled down to 7. That's when it helps to have the ACC Player of the Year on your side. With 2:30 to go Myisha Hines-Allen knocked down a jumper just as calm as you please, and after that momentum seemed to swing back the Cards' way. The final score was 60-50.
Freshmen Sam Fuehring has had some good moments this year, but she has also left the floor in tears after being outplayed. Tonight she contributed quality minutes, but after the game Coach Walz was reluctant to be too lavish in his praise saying that he was "shocked" at how well she played because she's been struggling in practice. "She has it in her to be a special player," but he pointed out that the work ethic a player needs to succeed at the college level is different than in high school. He said that part of the problem is that all anyone asks them about is points. "Nobody want to tweet out that she defended really well because nobody wants to retweet that." (I think he underestimates the quality of tweets from the Louisville fanbase, but it's OK. No offense taken, Coach.)
Case in point, here's a prime example of some beautiful basketball. The layup taken at full speed was impressive, but it all started with a rebound. Myisha grabbed the ball on a missed basket and aggressively pushed it up the floor. Then Mariyah waited patiently for the perfect second to give her back the ball for the the shot.
The Cards play at in the quarterfinal at 2:30pm on Saturday. Hopefully the current ACC Player of the Year is getting some tips from a former Big East Player of the Year.
— Samantha Williams (@ULCoachSam) March 5, 2016