The No. 5 seed Louisville women’s basketball team is heading back to the Elite Eight after its 72-62 win over No. 8 seed Friday night at Climate Pledge Arena. The Cardinals defense stifled the Rebels all night as the Cardinals advanced to their fifth-straight Elite Eight and eighth in program history.
Hailey Van Lith led the Cardinals once again in scoring with 21 points to go with five rebounds and four assists. It was her third-straight 20-point game in the NCAA tournament and seventh of her career, tied for second-most in program history. Mykasa Robinson scored 11 points, led the team with five assists and tied for the team lead with seven rebounds. Olivia Cochran added 10 points and six rebounds while Morgan Jones had 11 points and seven boards.
The Cardinals got off to a slow start in the first few minutes of the first quarter until Van Lith opened the scoring with a three. Van Lith scored seven of the first nine points for the Cards and they went on a 6-0 run to tie the game with 4:42 left in the first. The Cards hit five-straight shots in the middle portion of the quarter while they kept the Rebels scoreless for a three-minute stretch. Louisville finished the quarter making six of their last eight shots and took a 20-15 lead after the opening 10 minutes.
In the second quarter, Ole Miss went on an 8-0 run in the second and brought the Louisville lead down to one until Chrislyn Carr hit a three to end a three-minute scoreless drought. Ole Miss regained the lead with over three minutes left but the Cardinals responded with a corner three from Van Lith. The Cardinals defense tightened to close out the quarter as the held the Rebels scoreless for the final 3:41 of the quarter. Louisville finished the half on a 7-0 run and held a 34-29 lead at the break.
Van Lith scored 10 points in the first half and led the team with three assists. Jones had a team-best six rebounds as the Cardinals shot 46.4 percent over the first 20 minutes.
The Cardinals continued the stingy defense in the third quarter as they held the Rebels without a point for a five-minute stretch in the third. The Rebels missed eight-straight shots in the quarter as the Cardinals limited the offensive chances. The Cardinals had two crucial plays as they ended the quarter on an 11-4 run. Morgan Jones converted a layup with a foul and in the ensuing possession, Merissah Russell knocked down her second three of the night to put the Cardinals up 52-42 at the end of the third.
The Cardinals lead got as high as 12 in the final quarter as the Cardinals made a push to put the game away. Ole Miss attempted a rally over the final few minutes and trimmed the lead to five but that was the closest they would get. Robinson converted a crucial layup and free throw with under two minutes left to seal the game for the Cards.
With the win, the Cards are back in the Elite Eight for the eighth time in program history. They will match up with the Big Ten Tournament Champion Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday with a trip to the Final Four on the line. The Cardinals and No. 2 seed Hawkeyes will square off at 9 p.m. ET from Seattle and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.