If all you saw was the final score you might get the impression that this was a comfortable win for Louisville. It was not. Any time the Cards got a little bit of a run Syracuse swung the momentum back their way. The score was tied at 62 with six minutes to go but finally Louisville was able to put together one solid push to end the game on a 22-9 run.
Hailey Van Lith had a strong scoring game and had 13 of her 20 points in the first half. Kianna Smith was the answer to every one of those Syracuse runs. Just when it seemed like things might slip away she’d drain one of her 20 points to swing things back Louisville’s way. Against her old team Emily Engstler had 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. As a team the Cards had 22 assists on 34 made field goals.
When asked what enabled her to make those big shots Kianna said, “It’s just confidence. We put in a lot of work so those shots are the shots we practice every day.” She added that she was “just taking what the defense gave me. A lot of the times off the reversal I was pretty much wide open.”
After the game Coach Walz said, “I’m going to chalk this up as a Covid game.... It was absolutely our worst defensive performance of the year. We were late on everything.” He added, “That’s part of not being able to practice as an entire team for the last three days. But it was great to be able to get out here and play.” He also thanked his staff for getting the team ready because he just got out of quarantine today.
When asked about the toll the Covid pause took on the team Hailey said, “Different girls came back at different times and it was just very chaotic it felt like and our team didn’t feel the same but I think we were able to just play hard and play scrappy tonight and grit out a win.”
Next up the Cards travel to Boston to play Boston College on Sunday. The game is at noon and can be seen on the ACC Network.