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Louisville Outlasts Drake 83-81

Syndication: The Courier-Journal Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The city of Louisville collectively exhaled as the final seconds ticked off the clock. We felt every bit of the survival aspect of “survive and advance.” But survive the Cards did and advance they shall.

Drake was absolutely picking Louisville apart in the first half with backdoor layups. It did not help that Hailey Van Lith only played 8 minutes in the first half after sitting after picking up two fouls. Still the game was tied at halftime.

Coach Walz said, “They cut so hard without the ball. They abused us.” Coach Norman said, “What people don’t understand is that I spent an entire week on this scout and we wanted to pressure them because they are a tremendous three-point shooting team....everybody who I’d talked to who had played them said you have to pressure them to turn it over.” She added, “But you can’t let them shoot 12 for 17 in the first half and expect to win.”

Hailey Van Lith and Mykasa Robinson both showed the tenacity that we’ve come to expect and came up with several cloth plays in the second half to give the Cards the lead. Hailey scored 19 of her 26 points in the second half. Mykasa carried herself like a player who was not prepared for her career to end. She scored 14 points and got 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals.

Hailey talked about her big 4th quarter. “Well you know I got a nice break there in the first half. I got in foul trouble and my teammates did a great job of keeping us in the game.... I just made shots. They did the rest.”

Coach Walz talked about the big shot Liz made at the end of the 3rd quarter. “Those are the shots that Liz makes. She’s great at facing up. She’s 6’5” but she’s not a traditional back to the basket back people down, she likes to face up and she’s got a really, really nice touch. It was a huge shot for us. No question.”

Coach Norman asked the fans to “just hang on.” She said, “We have a really interesting team... some days one thing is working and another day another play is working.... yet we still have managed to win 24 games.” She added, “I just think sometimes as coaches and fans we get a little spoiled. Instead of appreciating what these kids have endured, the growth that they’ve made, and how they’ve been able to manufacture some wins down the stretch. We changed some things mid-season and they responded. They’ve stepped up consistently. I don’t know how the next game is going to turn out but we’re going to fight like crazy.”

Louisville will play the winner of Texas and East Carolina on Monday.