Louisville went into the fourth quarter with a 52-38 lead. Things seemed to be chugging along nicely. Everyone was having fun. Then everyone was really NOT having fun. With 5:45 left in the game Olivia Cochran made a jumper to put the Cards up 59-44. Louisville would not score again. Miami went on a 17-0 run which was capped by a last second shot by Destiny Harden to give the Hurricanes the 61-59 victory.
Chelsie Hall led Louisville in scoring with 13 points. She had 11 of those in the first half when she was keeping the team in the game. Kianna Smith had 10 points. Emily Engstler had 8 points and 9 rebounds. The team had 21 turnovers.
After the game Coach Walz shouldered the blame for the loss. “I’ll take the blame for this. I tried to sub a little bit there at the end, trying to keep some fresh legs possibly thinking as you’re going through a tournament three games in hopefully three days, and we lost all of our rhythm offensively. And then we took some real poor shots, didn’t defend, didn’t guard. Everything that we needed to do to allow them to come back in the game, we did. That’s unfortunate for us, and again, I’ll take the blame for it. I’m not going to put the blame on these kids. It’s my fault.” He added, “it’s nice to sit here in front of the media when things go well and say how great it is, but this is part of it, too. You’ve got to be able to take the questions and admit when you screw up, and I screwed up there’s no question about it.”
Kianna Smith asked how the team would keep from being down on themselves before the NCAA tournament. She said, “I wouldn’t say being down on ourselves is a bad thing because we have to be down — like that was awful. There’s no question about it. This is the second time that’s happened to us this year, and we have to learn from it and make changes. And the only way that you learn from something is reflecting on the game and reflecting on all your mistakes.”
Coach Walz also apologized to the fans for the loss, “It’s a tough lesson to learn... if this doesn’t sit in your gut and piss you off, I don’t know what to do for them. But I also want to apologize for our fans. What an unbelievable group that we had come down here today for this tournament, and just appreciate them making that decision to come down and support us.”
Now Louisville waits. The NCAA Selection Show is March 13th at 8PM on ESPN.