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Louisville defeats Michigan 62-50

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Wichita Regional-Michigan v Louisville William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

This was not the most beautiful offensive game in Louisville history, but it was a testament to the saying that “defense wins.” With 5:40 left in the game Michigan cut the Louisville lead to 2 points. The Wolverines would not score again. As Hailey Van Lith said after the game, “No matter what happens to us on the offensive end even if it’s the worst shooting night of our lives we can go down on the other end and play defense and get some stops. At the end of the day if the other team scores less than you then you still win.”

Kianna Smith also talked about the importance of defense. “It’s about heart and we really wanted this game. We wanted it bad. We knew that if we didn’t pick up stops in the last five minutes we wouldn’t win. It came down to just how bad we wanted it.”

Hailey Van Lith led all scorers with 22 points. Emily Engstler had 16 rebounds, 6 steals, and 4 assists and approximately eleven billionty deflections [unofficial]. Chelsie Hall had 15 points [13 in the first half] and 4 steals.

Coach Walz talked about his team, “I’m just really, really proud of them. What an effort they gave the entire night.... We ended up turning them over 22 times and came up with 24 points off of those turnovers.”

Hailey talked about the huge contribution Chelsie Hall made. “We wouldn’t have won today without Chelsie obviously. She brought it on defense. She pressured the ball.... Obviously on offense they were blitzing me a lot and making it tough for me to get shots and I found Chels off the ball screens and she knocked it down.”

Coach Walz said, “She was big tonight for us. If she didn’t play the way she played that first half we’re probably down 6 or 8 going into halftime. She made big time shots.... That’s what happens.” He added, “Defensively that’s where she was outstanding. She caused so much chaos.”

Olivia Cochran was saddled [coughs:: unjustly ::coughs] with foul trouble all night but her contribution in the final moments was enormous. Hailey said, “She played so tough tonight especially with her eye from the last game she really had to push through.... She’s so big time for us we can’t appreciate her enough.”

Coach Walz said at the end of the game she wasn’t coming out. “I told here flat out ‘O you’ve got to suck this up. We’re about 2 minutes from going to a Final Four you can’t be tired.’ And I’ve got to give her credit she gutted it up and came up with some big plays at the end. I joked with her and told her the charge she took was because she was so tired she couldn’t move.”

Every four year player under Coach Walz has now made a Final Four and the players got choked up talking about him. Emily said, “He’s meant the world to me personally. It’s been a difficult three years for me. He was just somebody who took me under his arms and really cared about who I was and where I was coming from on a mental level. I really appreciate him. He’s a good person....He lets you be yourself and protects you.” She added, “I’m going to do whatever I can to get him a national championship.”

Hailey said, “He defends us when we talk crap and get techs. He works on the person you are off the court. I’m the stubborn one and he’s had to teach me to enjoy life outside of basketball. He cares about you off the court. It’s not just a business.... Every girl on this team would run through a wall for him.”

So on to the Final Four where the Cards will meet a formidable South Carolina team. The game is on Friday, April 1st at 7PM. It can be seen on ESPN.