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Louisville Takes Down Kentucky 80-75

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NCAA Womens Basketball: Final Four-Louisville vs Mississippi State Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville had a slight 36-29 lead going into the half which grew to 59-41 near the end of the third quarter. Louisville was rolling and at that point Asia Durr threw a gorgeous alley oop pass to Jazmine Jones who laid it in perfectly. However, the official called a technical on Jazmine which took the wind out of the sails of the team and the crowd. Kentucky followed the technical free throws with a Taylor Murray layup and the momentum Louisville had been riding seemed to stall.

Still, the Cards nursed a double digit lead going into the last few minutes of the game. Then, much like four years ago in a loss to Kentucky, they began to slow the tempo and then the wheels really came off the wagon. The Cards went 5-12 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and the Cats started hitting big shots and suddenly that double digit lead shrank to 4 in the final minute. However, time ran out on Kentucky and this time the Cards did enough to hang on for the win.

Despite calling for his team to hold the ball in the final moments Coach Walz thinks his team plays better in a more frenetic tempo. “Transition is where I think we really hurt them. We actually play a little better in chaos....at times I don’t know what we’re going to do. And if I don’t know there’s no way the opponent does.” He added, “We turned it over 7 times and in the last three minutes we may have turned it over 3 of those 7.”

Asia Durr finished the game with 32 points but an uncharacteristic amount of airballs. Coach Walz said, “I’ve never seen her airball two threes in my life....I asked her if she thought it was Pop-a-Shot and the goal was going to start moving. What in the world?! But the one thing I like about her is she keeps fighting.”

Normally a 74% free throw shooting team the Cards were 15-28 (53.6%) from the free throw line today. When asked about why there was a drop Sam Fuehring said, “I don’t know what was up from the free throw line today. It was everybody missing their first shot and I feel like because we saw our teammate miss their first shot there was so much pressure for us to like make it....it was just mental.”

On the controversial technical Asia Durr shook her head and said, “Look, that’s college basketball for you. I’m not trying to downplay it, but you’ve got to let people get excited. We’re playing a game. We’re super excited. It’s a Top 25 game. And he calls a tech....She was just getting hyped.” Coach Walz had more pointed criticism. “I asked ‘what did she say?’ ...he didn’t know what she said. She could’ve asked for a phone number ....It’s frustrating because I want to start getting crowds like all the men’s games. And a play like that in our game doesn’t happen all the time. Like that’s a dunk for us.” He added, “You get (13,700 people) here and you want to see plays like that.”

When asked about the rivalry Coach Walz had some harsh words for people who say nasty things about athletes on social media. “It’s amazing to me what fans will put out on social media about kids. Say what you want about me that’s fine. But I don’t care what sport it is—it’s amazing what people will say. Do you think anybody on my time wanted to step up there and go like 2 from 14 from the free throw line in the last two minutes of the game? I don’t think they did. I don’t think anybody from Kentucky tried to miss. They’re 18 to 22 year-olds. I tell people all the time, I don’t know if they got dumped the morning before practice! I mean we were all that age and maybe you all never got dumped in your lives, but it’s devastating at that point and time when you’re that age....You never know what taken place in a kid’s day before they step out on this court and play.”

Louisville plays Northern Kentucky on Saturday at the Yum Center. It’s a morning tip at 11:30. It will also be a celebration of the 2009 Final Four team. The game can also be seen on the ACC Digital Network.