The Cardinals survived and advanced earlier tonight to meet the school where, “Survive and advance,” was born. The NC State Wolfpack held off a late push from the Seminoles of Florida State to advance to meet the Louisville women in Saturday’s semifinal. Louisville advanced after a fourth quarter surge to push past a tenacious Clemson Tigers team headed by ACC women’s basketball Coach of the Year Amanda Butler.

Last time the Wolfpack met the Cardinals, it didn’t exactly work out well for them. NC State came to the KFC Yum! Center just over a week ago for Louisville WBB’s Senior Night. Senior ACC Player of the Year, Kay Yow Scholar Athlete of the Year, Naismith Award semifinalist, and generally cool lady Asia Durr decided to go off with a school-record 11 three pointers and a tie with her career-best 47 points. The Cardinals walked away with a 92-62 victory over a Wolfpack team that had been holding opponents to an average 58.6 points per game on 34.9% shooting.

Will that scenario repeat? Not likely. Or, at least, it’s not something you should count on. The Cardinals dilly-dallied tonight against a Clemson team with a lot of talent and it nearly bit them. Spend three quarters on a Sam Purcell smoke break and you’ll find yourself watching the championship game from the couch. Here are some quick hits on how the Cardinals can advance to a likely rematch with the Irish on Sunday afternoon.

Close The Lane

For three quarters, Clemson penetrated the paint at will. This led to either an easy layup or a dump pass to a waiting post player lurking just behind the drawn up defense. It was eerily similar to the way Miami was able to handle the Cardinals in the Hurricanes’ upset victory. The Tigers nearly did the same thing, and NC State will likely be looking to exploit the same weakness. Last week, the Wolfpack never had a chance to get into that rhythm since Louisville was shooting the ball in a ridiculously successful fashion. Barring another 92 point performance, the Cardinals have to move and switch better on defense while shutting down the passing lanes to NC State’s center Elissa Cunane. She’s performed very impressively since taking a starting role and had 22 points and 9 rebounds tonight against the Seminoles.

We know the Cardinals can defend that way. It’s just a matter of execution.

Pressure Pressure Pressure

The Wolfpack are a disciplined team, and can handle the ball well. But when pressured the right way they’ll give up the ball and create opportunities for points in transition. Dana Evans had lots of success with this last week, and there’s no reason she can’t put in a repeat performance. Sam Fuehring and Bionca Dunham can collapse down on Cunane in the post and create jump balls or strip the ball away. Take the ball, run to the other end of the court, and put it in the basket. I’ve been told that’s an effective way to win a ballgame.

Perfection Not Required

You don’t have to have one person score 47 points with 11 three point baskets to beat the Wolfpack. Don’t think you have to. Fall into that mind trap, and you might find yourself firing up the ball at every first opportunity. The Cardinals will need to do what they’ve shown they can do better than almost anyone else in the country.

Move the ball around the perimeter, look for opportunities in the post, and keep the defense moving. The Cardinals’ speed can do severe damage to any opponent’s strategy. There’s no need to overly burden themselves with needless expectations.

NC State vs Louisville – 2:30 p.m. Saturday, 9 March

ACC Semifinals

TV: ESPNU

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Your source for UofL Women's Basketball + Men's/Women's Soccer news via the The Crunch Zone. If I'm not at a UofL game you can find me at a Louisville City FC game, or doing Men's Basketball post-game on ESPN680/93.9 The Ville with my man Joe Kelly. Husband, cat owner, sports consumer.

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