To be perfectly honest Louisville should’ve beat Notre Dame like this a week ago on Senior Night. For some reason that night the Cards looked tentative and out of sorts. Today even though they started off with mediocre shooting (18.8% in the 1st quarter) they played tenacious defense that put the Irish on their heels and they had no answer for the Cards tonight.
Louisville put the clamps on Sonia Citron who went from having 27 points a week ago to only 8 tonight. Hailey Van Lith said, “This game we were there for 40 minutes and we made everything tough... we didn’t give her any space. She was going to have to make really tough 2s over us so we just played the percentages. She’s a great player.”
Coach Walz said, “Today our communication was outstanding. We made things extremely difficult for Notre Dame to get into an offense and I thought it started with the ball pressure that Kas put on and when CC came in she did the same thing.” Hailey said, “I think offensively we’ve been pretty consistent all season it was just a matter of if we were going to decide to step up to the plate defensively. I think we’ve all decided to trust each other and that’s been the main difference..... The effort willing to be given on defense has elevated us.”
Louisville had balanced scoring with four players in double figures and led by Hailey Van Lith with 15. Olivia Cochran had 12 points and 8 rebounds. Mykasa Robinson had 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Coach Walz talked about Olivia Cochran’s improvement, “O is a physical player but I was like O stop trying to run everybody over. Stop trying to create contact and just go up. Our last three games she’s been spectacular just catching and finishing, ripping and drives, great soft touch.... I’m just really, really proud of the growth.” Olivia said, “I’m just doing my role. I know what my teammates need from me, and I just continue to execute that in every way I can.”
On Hailey he said, “She forces so much attention and she shares the basketball. She made some beautiful passes.... You might put all your [defensive] effort on Hailey but she’s a pretty darn good basketball player of knowing how to get others involved too.”
When asked if she was surprised by how lopsided the final score was Hailey said, “I had no idea how Notre Dame was going to play but I knew how we were going to play. We’ve had a great vibe and great practices. The team is just locked in. I knew how we were going to play and we played that way. It was just a matter if Notre Dame was going to match us or not.”
The Cards will play the winner of Duke/Virginia Tech for the ACC Championship tomorrow at 1PM. The game can be seen on ESPN.