South Carolina is the #1 team in the country. Louisville was going to have to play one of their best games to steal a victory. They... did not.
Credit South Carolina for playing a great game but the Cards did not do themselves any favors. They missed layups. They committed unforced turnovers. They did not make a three point basket until 38 seconds left in the GAME. That said, the Cards were within striking distance the entire game. They even took the lead in the first half. But down the stretch when they needed a big play they just didn’t get it.
Emily Engstler finished her college career with a team high 18 points and she added 9 rebounds and 4 steals before fouling out. Kianna Smith had 14 points and 5 rebounds. Olivia Cochran had 14 points and 4 rebounds.
After the game Coach Walz said, “I’ve said it all year, if we’re going to lose a game, I want it to be because we just missed shots. I really thought we had some great looks, and just some that went in and out for us at crunch time to cut the lead to four, to two. It’s part of it, but I’ve never been prouder of a group. They’ve absolutely been a joy to coach.”
He also talked about what he thought was the difference in the game, “If you look at the stat sheet, everything I thought we had to do, we did. We only get out-rebounded by three, we have 14 second-chance points to their 10. Where we got hurt was 50/50 balls... It’s not that we weren’t playing hard. Shit happens.” He added, “I think we had three air balls in the first six shots. That’s just adrenaline. That’s playing at the Final Four. Then they just calmed down, and then I thought we played really, really, really well the rest of that first half.”
Hailey Van Lith only scored 9 points but Coach Walz still had lots of praise for her. “She took the ball to the basket hard. I was surprised that she wasn’t able to get to the free-throw line once or twice with how hard she was attacking the rim. But overall she adjusted to that... She got others involved. She set a couple really nice screens, which when you’re being face guarded then your man is not going to help, but freed up her teammates. Yeah, she comes up with nine boards tonight? I love coaching her. The kid is going to be an All-American next year.”
Emily said, “Yeah, we lost this game, but I don’t think we gave up, not on one play. I think we should all leave this arena and Minneapolis with our heads held very high. I’m extremely proud of this team, and I’ve had an amazing time with them.” She also talked about her foul trouble late in the game, “I’m an aggressive basketball player. If that’s how I’m going to go out, then that’s how I was going to go out, but I was going to put everything in me on that floor for these girls and for myself and for our fans, who we had a lot of, and we’re really appreciative. I took a risk, and it happens.”
Hailey talked about how the seniors helped her this season. “I think after the Miami loss, we were like, we didn’t really have anyone that could just like pull the team together and like get us all going, and they taught me to be that person.” She added, “You look at all the intangibles they bring... how they just elevated everyone else and made everyone else a better player. You can’t teach that and that’s why they’re going to be drafted really soon and I’m going to be there at the draft, I’m going to be cheering for them on my feet screaming because those are my girls. Yeah, I’m a fan for life. For the rest of their careers I’m going to be clapping for them.”
So concludes the 2021-2022 women’s basketball season for UofL. It was another great year filled with way more ups than downs. In the end only one team in the nation ends the season happy and this year it is not the University of Louisville. Still, the future is bright. Go Cards.