Even without superstar Paige Bueckers UConn came out blazing in this game. In the first quarter it looks like they might run the Cards out of the gym after holding them scoreless for five minutes. Emily Engtsler being called for two quick fouls surely contributed to Louisville not being in a rhythm early. Then the Cards went on a run of their own and went into halftime down only three. They continued their defensive intensity and managed to grab their first lead about two minutes into the 3rd quarter. Both team traded leads and with 1:30 to go the Cards had a 6 point lead and then it was fouls, free throws, and trying to get to the finish line. In the end UConn had their 30-0 streak at the Mohegan Sun Arena snapped.
Hailey Van Lith and Kianna Smith both finished the game with 16 points apiece and both were clutch. Alahna Smith had 9 points to go along with tenacious defense. Despite only playing 21 minutes Emily Engstler had 9 points and 6 rebounds. Mykasa Robinson didn’t have gaudy stats but her defense (especially on players with an enormous size advantage) helped Louisville get back in the game.
After the game Coach Walz spoke with Nick Curran. “Great basketball game today. I thought our kids really fought and withstood their run to start the game. That’s what UConn does. They’re going to punch you in the mouth an go on a 10-0 run.... but we were able to regroup and keep our composure.”
He said praised the entire team and warned about the influence of friends and family when the ladies go home for the holidays, “We have great team chemistry right now and the only people who can screw this up are outsiders.” He added, “They’re at practice every single. day. I’m at practice every single day. They know Coach wants to win because that’s what I get a paycheck for.... they know what they’re getting done in practice every single day. They are getting better.”
He was also asked about going from 11 turnovers in the first half to only 1 in the second, “You know Nick it’s something else when when you actually throw it to your own team. It’s amazing what can happen. I’ve never claimed to be a genius but I’ve explained to them if we throw it to your own team then we get a chance to shoot.” He also noted that they don’t always appreciate his sarcasm.
The Cards get a break for Christmas and return to the Yum to start ACC play against Boston College on December 30th. The game is at 7PM and can be seen on ACCNX.