Commentary

Analysis: Louisville 73, LSU 47

Host Cardinals advance to Elite Eight, will face 4-seed Maryland on Tuesday

Originally Published: March 30, 2014
By Graham Hays | espnW.com

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- We now know when Shoni Schimmel will play her final game at home. All that remains to be seen is if there is a drive down Interstate 65 waiting after that.

Avoiding the upset bug that bit No. 1 seed Tennessee and No. 2 seed West Virginia in its quadrant of the bracket, third-seeded Louisville beat No. 7 seed LSU 73-47 on Sunday. Schimmel led all Cardinals with 19 points and will play for a place in the Final Four in Nashville, Tenn.

Louisville will try to join a small group of schools that have made back-to-back Final Four appearances.

KEY STAT: Louisville hit 12 3-pointers against LSU, including seven in a first half in which more than half the team's shots came from that distance. That isn't a new development, but it mattered against a team that didn't have that club in its bag. Louisville made an impression on a national audience by raining in 3-pointers against Baylor in last year's Sweet 16. But the truth of the matter was the Cardinals weren't much more than an average 3-point shooting team a season ago. Take out that oh-so-memorable Baylor game and they shot just 31 percent from behind the arc for the season. But as was the case Sunday afternoon, they are among the best in the country from long range this season.

[+] EnlargeShoni Schimmel
Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY SportsShoni Schimmel, left, shot 6-of-13 from the field to score a team-high 19 points.

TURNING POINT: It wasn't a game for long, so it probably came when the Cardinals simply outlasted Danielle Ballard. The player who came up so big for the Lady Tigers in the first two rounds in Baton Rouge carried that momentum to the start of Sunday's game and had 12 points by the time the game was eight minutes old. She kept going well enough to finish with 24 points, but she was on her own. Ballard finished with 12 field goals. The rest of the team finished with four. In large part because of Louisville's defense (and presumably also because of Jeanne Kenney's absence), Theresa Plaisance was a nonfactor, unable to get touches down low or clean looks outside the paint.

KEY PLAYER: Big players step up in big games. Maryland's Alyssa Thomas did in the first game of the day in Louisville, and Schimmel did in the second game. She and the Cardinals had a little more breathing room than the Terrapins, but she was still the best player on the court. Schimmel still had the highlight moments -- the behind-the-back pass to sister Jude Schimmel on a second-half break that brought the crowd to its feet and the step-back 3-pointers -- but the poise and efficiency with which she has played all season were also on display.

HOW IT WAS WON: Louisville didn't give LSU time to settle into thinking about an upset like the one the Cardinals pulled a year ago. The Cardinals were the superior team coming in and didn't play down to a wounded opponent. After a few early missteps, they took care of the ball (10 turnovers and 21 assists on 25 field goals), showed patience and used their depth to wear down a short-handed opponent. Both teams played about the same number of players until garbage time, but those were the players Jeff Walz wanted to use. They were the only players LSU had.

WHAT'S NEXT: Louisville advances to face Maryland on Tuesday night. Walz coached for Maryland coach Brenda Frese at both that school and Minnesota and was a part of the Terrapins team that won a national championship in 2006.

Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.

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