Less than 24 hours removed from the University of Louisville Men’s team falling to Michigan State in the Big10/ACC Challenge, the Women’s Basketball Cardinals exacted revenge by defeating #19 Michigan State 85-78. If ever there was a coach and a team in need of a win, it was Coach Walz and this Cardinals squad.
Paced by sophomore Mariya Moore’s twenty points, and bolstered by freshman Asia Durr’s twenty, the Cards outshot the Spartans in the first half, and clung to the lead in the second, to hand Michigan State just their second loss in six games.
If you watched the men’s game from the night before, the women’s game looked eerily familiar. In both contests the Cardinals got off to early leads behind good shooting and stingy defense. For the ladies, the second half ability to make stops and to re-establish their lead was the difference.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night for Cardinals fans was the availability, and productivity, of Asia Durr. Just Wednesday Walz discussed openly the prospect of shutting down the much heralded recruit due to her inability to overcome her nagging groin injury. Calling it a game time decision, Walz elected to play Durr against the Spartans and she paid immediate dividends. In just twenty-three minutes, she tallied twenty points, two rebounds, three steals and two assists while committing only three turnovers.
While Durr and Moore led the team in scoring, it was the balance that may have made the difference with five players reaching double figures. Shooting was also much improved with Louisville finishing the game at 52.7% from the floor, while holding MSU to 49.1% and forcing 27 turnovers.
Up next for the Cards, a return to the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday for a 4:00 tipoff against Valparaiso. The Crusaders come into the game on Saturday sporting a record of 0-5 and are fresh off of a three point loss to Miami of Ohio on Wednesday.
If the Cards are fortunate enough to win against Valparaiso on Saturday, and they should, they will head into next Thursday night’s game against #11 Kentucky in Rupp Arena with an opportunity to even out their record at 4-4. There is a lot of basketball to be played in order to get to that point, but the path to a successful season is in front of this team. One thing is certain, if the Cards can continue to receive contributions from Durr, and can shore up the rebounding, there is still a chance for this to be a special season.
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