No. 1 Louisville women’s basketball steals a win away from Notre Dame
It was a sloppy win for No. 1 Louisville women’s basketball, but what matters is it’s still a win. The 18th of the season, in fact.
The Cardinals (18-1) overcome a rocky game to beat visiting Notre Dame 71-65 Sunday.
Not much went right for U of L in this game, but good teams find a way to win even when it’s not pretty.
All-American Dana Evans, once again, proved she was the best player on the floor leading all scorers with 27 points, including a clutch three when the team had a one-point lead with less than a minute to play and iced the game with two free throws. Evans also joined the 1,500 point club. Kianna Smith was second on the team in scoring with 16.
Before the Cardinals could think about Georgia Tech who comes to town Thursday at 7 p.m. or what foods they’ll eat during the Super Bowl, they had to get past the Fighting Irish.
Here’s three takeaways from the game.
There’s still plenty to work on
Missed layups. Careless turnovers. Lane violations. Missed defensive assignments. Everything imaginable that could go wrong happened for U of L in this game.
It’s very rare for the Cardinals to look this off in a game, especially when they were able to get the bad taste out of their mouths from the loss to NC State when they blew out Boston College this past Thursday by 29.
U of L finished the game with 12 turnovers. Rebounding showed some improvement, rebounding evenly (41) and having 12 offensive rebounds against a much-taller Notre Dame team, but couldn’t always capitalize when they had chances.
Notre Dame cut the lead to two, 52-50, in the third quarter, U of L woke up in the third quarter to close out the quarter on a 8-0 scoring run and took care of business in the fourth quarter to get the win.
“We missed eight layups in the first half alone,” U of L coach Jeff Walz said. “If we just made layups, not talking about 15 footers, just layups, instead of being up eight, we’re up 12 or 13, 16 at the half. Those are things we’ve got to get fixed.”
Despite there being things to work on, this Louisville team still controls its own destiny.
With NC State losing to North Carolina, the Cardinals are now in sole place of first place in the ACC, but it won’t be an easy stretch for the final five regular season games with the last four being on the road. If this team hopes to end the season with ACC Championships and another Final Four run, games like this can’t become a consistent trend.
“We can’t be looking at anybody else. We’ve got to fix our own problems right now,” Walz added. “If we don’t get better a little bit at a time defensively, it’s not going to matter. We’re not going to go undefeated over these next (five) games.”
Welcome back, Elizabeth Balogun
Elizabeth Balogun missed last Thursday’s game as she was with the Nigerian National Team for an Olympic training camp.
Her presence was an immediate impact for U of L.
In her game back, she finished third in scoring with 12 points.
“I thought she played really well for us,” Walz said. “She turned the ball over four times, which is uncharacteristic for her, but overall, really pleased with the way she played, especially not going through much prep of this Notre Dame game.”
Cardinals ‘steal’ a game, literally
Despite some struggles, U of L had a very active defensive game.
UND kept the game competitive. They shot right at 40% from the field but a game-high 13 turnovers proved the difference. U of L collected nine steals on the day and Kianna Smith had a career-high five for the Cards.
Another bright spot was the play of Mykasa Robinson.
With a team loaded with scoring threats, Robinson isn’t one that will get you double digit scoring games, but it’s her gutty play that does so much for this team.
She finished with just five points, but tied a career-high eight rebounds and four assists.
“I just want to win and do what’s right for my team. Whatever it takes, I just want that mentality. I want my teammates to know I got their backs and will do whatever they need,” Robinson said.
“My coaches, my teammates – LaMont Russell (U of L’s video coordinator) has really been helping me out, getting me in the gym early working out and my teammates and coaches give me that confidence (to score more).”
Reach Dominique Yates. Twitter: @RealDYates. Email: [email protected]