This has been a strange year for Louisville women's basketball. There have been flashes of fire but games where they played sloppy and seemed apathetic. I think most would agree this team hasn't played like the team we expected to see.....until tonight.
They still weren't perfect. They had 11 turnovers. At points they were being outrebounded. Asia Durr came out blazing and then in the second and third quarters she barely scored. There was a spell in the 3rd quarter when they were playing very out of sorts and the crowd seemed to get nervous. The game was basically even at that point, would Louisville keep their composure or would they fall apart?
Instead of fading away in the 4th quarter the Cards turned up the heat. They seemed to be flying all over the court. They were aggressive. Every single player did their part. For example, Sydney Zambrotta came in and didn't score but she drew a charge. With about 5 minutes to go the Cards finally got some separation, withstood Tennessee's attempts to close the gap, and ultimately won the game 75-64.
Mariya Moore was asked about her mindset heading into the 4th quarter and she said, "My mindset was we've come so far, we can't give up now. And I need to do whatever I could do to make sure my team pushed through." Tonight with the game on the line she made 3s, drew fouls, dished amazing passes, grabbed big rebounds. She willed the team to a win.
Myisha Hines-Allen said, "The crowd was loud. When we were down, they were still with us. Even when we were up, they were still with us." The quote struck me because this year there has seemed to be a disconnect between the team and the crowd. I feel like that quote could apply to most of the close games this season, but it never really seemed like this group fed off the energy of the fans like teams in years past have. However, tonight it felt like everyone was working together to make it happen.
Friday night the Cards return to the scene of the 2013 crime--Oklahoma City--where they will again meet Baylor in the Sweet 16.