After a two-week layoff since the ACC Tournament it took the Cardinals a minute tonight to really hit their stride. They started off the game missing layups and throwing careless passes. Coach Walz subbed out most of the starters at the end of the quarter. Whatever happened on the bench seemed to settle them down because in the second quarter the Cards turned on the jets. It was 21-16 with 6 minutes left in the half and by halftime Louisville was up 48-20. Boom.
Hailey Van Lith led all scorers with 20 points. Emily Engstler had 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 steals and also joined the 1,000 point club. She said, “That was really surprising. I actually had no idea, and I didn’t make it in high school, so that was pretty cool. Coach Walz kind of didn’t say anything, so it was a surprise. But it feels good.” Kianna Smith had 15 points and 5 assists.
After the game Emily talked about Albany. “They are a good team. They won their conference. They gave us a challenge. I just think that we showed up a little better in this situation, like we’re at home. We definitely have an advantage. But I think that they put out a fight as best they could, but we pulled it out well.”
Hailey talked about the rocky first quarter. “We have had two weeks off where we haven’t played a game. I personally have been going light in practice just to manage minutes here. So like it was my first time running up and down, and it happens. I had to get my feet under me. They were good shots, they just weren’t going in, and I just kept attacking and kept making the right reads and it ended up going my way.”
Next up the Cards will play Gonzaga who defeated Nebraska this afternoon. Hailey was asked what it was going to be like playing a team from closer to her hometown and she said, “I’m really excited. I know a lot of my people back home are going to be watching hopefully cheering for me. I know they love their Zags out there, but I’m excited. They’re a great team, so it’s going to be a great game, fun to be a part of. We’re going to prepare for it, and yeah, we’ll take care of business.”
Coach Walz hopes to see a big crowd on Sunday. “I’m going to put a challenge out to our fans, both men’s fans, our women’s fans. There’s no reason we can’t sell this lower bowl out for Sunday’s game. We’re a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, going to be playing the second round game against a really good Gonzaga team, and why we can’t get 12,000 down here, I think we should. I think we can.”