Several times already this season the Cards have held a comfortable lead only to see it evaporate into a loss. So as we watched a 20-point lead late in the 3rd quarter slowly start to be whittled away we could be forgiven for being a little anxious. However, whereas in the past games when other teams made their run the Cards seemed to panic which led to rushing and then bad decisions. Tonight they withstood the run and seemed to play within themselves. Then bent but they did not break. Another step forward.
A huge part of the victory today goes to the smallest person on the floor. Chrislyn Carr, at all of 5’5”, grabbed 17 rebounds all on the defensive end. She also had 21 points. Her steady play at point guard is a big reason the Cards earned the victory. Hailey Van Lith finished with 17 points (11 in the 4th quarter) and 5 assists. Merissah Russell had 11 points all in the first half including a buzzer beater at the end of the first quarter.
After the game Associate Coach Jonneshia Pineda praised CC’s play, “Super excited about her growth these last couple of games Coach [Walz] has been challenging her to do different things and get out of her comfort zone and continue to play hard and play with a chip. They laughed in the locker room because if it wasn’t for our post players boxing out she doesn’t end up getting all those rebounds. She did EXACTLY what we told her to do.”
She also talked about Merissah Russell’s big first half when a few of the starters were in foul trouble. “She puts in the work and the ball is going through the hoop. It starts because she is obviously in better shape and she’s taking pride defensively to get stops and get rebounds and then shoot her shot. No more home runs. She’s actually taking her time and letting plays develop for her. I thought she was great.”
Louisville takes a little break for the holidays and returns to action on Thursday, December 29th against Syracuse. The game is in Louisville at 7PM and can be seen on ACC Network Extra.