Louisville women’s basketball ready for the NCAA Tournament Friday, Mar 18 2022 

By Daniel Rankin —

The journey to the Final Four begins tonight for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team as they set their eyes on winning the program’s first national championship.

At 6 p.m. tonight, the No. 1 Louisville Cardinals will face the No. 16 seeded Albany Great Danes in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN 2.

The KFC Yum! Center will play host to the first and second round for eight of this year’s 68 national tournament teams, including the Louisville and Albany matchup.

Should the Cards advance to the second round, they will face either the No. 8 Nebraska Cornhuskers or No. 9 Gonzaga Bulldogs on Sun., March 19.

Following an upset loss in the ACC Quarterfinals to the Miami Hurricanes, there was some question about what the Cards’ final seeding would be. However, after a strong season finishing 25-4, Louisville secured the No. 1 seed.

Should Louisville advance to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, they’ll be making the journey to Wichita, Kansas to play in the tournament. A potential Elite 8 matchup could see the Cards face the No. 2 Baylor Bears, winners of the 2021 National Championship.

The location of this year’s Final Four is in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where fellow No. 1 seed and ACC rival North Carolina State could potentially clash with the Cardinals.

For most of the year, The Cards have been one of the top teams in the nation. With Mykasa Robinson and Emily Engstler, the latter of which being a Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year Semifinalist, Louisville shows off one of the best defenses in the country.

Throughout the season, the Cards have sometimes struggled offensively and with producing turnovers. However, Hailey Van Lith, Kianna Smith, Chelsie Hall and Engstler have all shown to be solid and reliable shooters capable of putting up big numbers.

Forward Olivia Cochran’s second year in red has shown a strong presence under the glass, accompanied by senior Liz Dixon.

While all signs point to a straightforward win for the Cards in this first-round matchup, it is March Madness and upsets are known to happen.

After the surprise Miami loss, Coach Walz’s message was clear, “One game at a time. We’re going to focus on Albany as you can’t focus on the round two opponent unless you get there.”

Luckily, readers, writers, national and local pundits alike can look ahead and speculate for them. Most agree: this is a powerful team that should expect at least a Final Four.

Baylor would undoubtedly pose a tough challenge but is certainly a winnable game. Dominant performances against Notre Dame and the University of Connecticut prove just that, as did the first three quarters against NC State. However, the fourth quarter has proven to be an issue for the Cards.

While Louisville is more than capable of winning against any team in the nation, they’ll need to keep the offense moving in matchups to seal the deal.

Earlier in the season, Coach Walz said, “We’re a good team, good enough to make the Final Four. But we could also be eliminated in the second round [of the NCAA Tournament].”

With the tournament underway, stay tuned for more coverage as we recap and preview matchups.

Photo by Daniel Rankin // The Louisville Cardinal

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Women’s Basketball dominate Notre Dame in regular season finale Monday, Feb 28 2022 

By Daniel Rankin —

On Feb. 27, the No. 4 Louisville Women’s Basketball team won big against the No. 14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 86-64.

The contest made national headlines, with the Cardinals jumping out to a 41-3 lead in the second quarter. Louisville’s largest lead was 48-6 before Notre Dame finally strung together consecutive baskets.

The win allowed the Cardinals to finish the season 25-3 and 16-2 in the ACC.

Sophomore Guard Hailey Van Lith and senior Kianna Smith finished with an impressive 20 points. Seniors Emily Engstler and Chelsie Hall had 17 points and 13 points, respectively.

The Cardinals finished the game with 16 forced turnovers and an overwhelming 40-22 rebound advantage.

In the first quarter, Louisville was perfect, shooting lights out 7-7 from beyond the arc. It took the Cards almost five minutes before they missed their first game shot. The opening quarter ended with an astonishing 31-3 Louisville lead.

Despite multiple timeouts and substitutions from Notre Dame, nothing was stopping the Cards.

The second quarter saw the Louisville offense slow down to a ‘normal’ shooting performance, but the defense still had Notre Dame’s number.

By the time Notre Dame figured out how to score, the game was out of reach, with Louisville up 54-15 at halftime.

The Fighting Irish lived up to their name in the second half, including a 30-15 fourth quarter. But, the gap was too far for Notre Dame to mount a serious comeback.

Overall, it was an outstanding performance, especially considering Notre Dame is ranked No. 14 in the nation.

The defense has been elite all season for the Cardinals, arguably the best in the country. But the offense from time to time can go through some droughts.

While the second half wasn’t perfect, Sunday’s nationally televised game will make teams wish to avoid the Cards in their brackets come tournament time.

But with the regular season over, that time has now arrived.

A 23-win season is nothing to be resentful about, but the expectations for Coach Jeff Walz and his team are always high. After finishing second in the title race to NC State, the Cardinals will be eager to win the ACC Tournament Championship in Greensboro, N.C.

Louisville’s first game will be in the ACC Quarterfinals on Fri. Mar. 4 at 6 pm.

With tournament season upon us, stay tuned for more Women’s Basketball Coverage!

Photo by Daniel Rankin // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L women’s basketball beats Virginia Tech Monday, Feb 21 2022 

By Daniel Rankin —

On Sunday afternoon in an ACC Matchup, the No. 3 ranked Louisville Cardinals beat the No. 23 Virginia Tech Hokies by a dominant score of 70-56.

With the win, the Cardinals move to 23-3 on the season and a second-place ACC record of 14-2.

Sophomore Guard Hailey Van Lith led the way with 20 points and forward Emily Engstler finished her 8th double-double of the season with 19 points and 15 rebounds.

Engstler was one of three graduating seniors honored before the game as part of the Senior Day festivities, along with guards Kianna Smith and Chelsie Hall.

Three other seniors were missing from the pregame festivities as Liz Dixon, Mykasa Robinson and Ahlana Smith announced earlier this week that they’ll be returning to play another season in Louisville thanks to the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility.

Coming off a surprising one-point road loss to North Carolina, the Cardinals started the game hot by grabbing a quick 8-0 lead. The Cards’ physical play and tough defense forced the Hokies to turn the ball over and fall behind.

After a 22-14 first quarter, Virginia Tech was able to pick up the pace. However, the Cards still extended their lead by 3 points heading into the locker room.

Good ball movement inside and outside the paint and impressive Van Lith jumpers pushed the Cards to a 14-4 run to start the second half. Kianna Smith capped off a successful senior day scoring 4 of her 11 points in the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Louisville had its largest lead at 24 points, but the Hokies managed to get it down to 14 by the end of the game. Although the starters had fewer minutes in the final quarter, the Cards will undoubtedly need to keep the pressure on late in games come Tournament time.

Overall, a comfortable ranked win after a heartbreaking loss on the road is a positive moment for the Cardinals.

However, early foul trouble, unforced turnovers and allowing a late run from Virginia Tech highlight areas of concern that need to be addressed before elimination games begin.

“We’re a good team, good enough to make the final four,” stated Head Coach Walz after the game. “But we could also be eliminated in the second round,” he said, referring to the NCAA Tournament.

But before the Tournament, the Cards will compete for the ACC Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina. After tonight’s win, Louisville has secured a double-bye for the ACC Tournament, with their first game starting in the Quarterfinals on Fri., March 4.

Up next for the No. 3 ranked Cardinals are two road games to finish out the regular season with Pittsburgh on Feb. 24 and Notre Dame on Feb. 27.

Photo by Daniel Rankin // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L women’s basketball takes down ranked Duke Tuesday, Feb 1 2022 

By Daniel Rankin —

On Jan. 30, the No. 5 ranked Louisville Cardinals beat the Duke University Blue Devils in an ACC showdown. With their fifth ranked-win of the season, the Cards improve to 18-2 and 8-1 in conference play.

Sophomore guard Hailey Van Lith had another stellar performance, leading the way with 17 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Freshman guard Payton Verhulst, having earned significant minutes off the bench, backed it up with a career-high 13 points.

In the first half, the Cards dominated much of the action with an impressive shooting performance and a highly pressured defense, forcing Duke to take poor shots and turnovers. Louisville started the second half with a 20-point lead and was well-positioned to win.

However, Duke closed the gap, making it an extremely competitive and close game thanks to substantial three-point shooting in the third quarter.

After struggling during the middle part of the game, Van Lith made 8 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter, which was crucial with Duke continuing to apply pressure late in the game. Freshman guard Shayeann Day-Wilson stood out for the Blue Devils with 25 points, keeping them extremely close. However, she fouled out of the game late in the fourth.

There shouldn’t be too many negative takeaways after extending a three-game winning streak and beating a tough-ranked ACC opponent. However, the usually elite defense from the Cardinals struggled at times, allowing an uncommonly high .488 field goal percentage and over .500 3 point percentage by the Blue Devils.

“I thought we did some good things offensively in the first half,” stated Louisville Head Coach Jeff Walz, but he took issue with the officiating in the second half. In reference to the referees, Walz said, “There’s no flow to it; they make calls that have no impact on anything, both sides.”

Up next, the Cardinals, now ranked No. 4 at the time of writing, will hit the road for three games starting with the University of Miami on February 1. The next home game for the Cards will be on February 10 against the University of Virginia.

Photo by Daniel Rankin // The Louisville Cardinal

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Women’s Basketball Rebounds In Win Against Wake Forest Tuesday, Jan 25 2022 

By Daniel Rankin–

On Jan 23, The Louisville Cardinals rebounded after their NC State loss by beating the Wake Forest Deacons 72-60.

The Cards are now 16-2 with a 6-1 ACC record on the season. Sophomore guard Hailey Van Lith impressed with a 17-point game and a career-high six assists.

The game started extremely tight, with both teams shooting well, including a few critical threes from Wake Forest that kept them ahead for most of the first quarter. Freshman guard Payton Verhulst, who  has started to earn some vital minutes on the team,  knocked down a three late in the first to keep the Cards within range, 22-21 going into the second.

Both teams continued to trade baskets back and forth starting the second quarter. Eventually, the Cardinal’s defense found a way to shut down the Deacons, prompting a massive 19-0 run to end the first half. The Cards shot a staggering 10-13 behind the 3 point line taking control of the game.

Coming out of the locker room, the Cards picked up right where they left off, extending a 32-0 run.

“Mykasa Robinson came into the game and changed our defensive mindset,” said head coach Jeff Walz, who credited the senior for sparking the big run. “She’s as tough of a kid as I’ve ever coached, and she just makes things happen.” Robinson forced multiple turnovers on defense  in addition to her 2 points and a season-high seven assists

The Cards slowed down offensively in the fourth quarter allowing more players down the rotation to receive playing time.

Overall this was a good win coming off a tough ACC loss; the Cardinals put together a complete game on both sides of the game against a quality conference opponent. The defense was able to shine as usual, but the offense and 3 point shooting, in particular, stood out the most and will hopefully propel the Cards forward as we grow closer to tournament season. Next for the Cards is Florida State this Thursday, Jan 27, at the KFC Yum! Center.

Photo by Daniel Rankin / / The Louisville Cardinal 

 

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Women’s basketball picks up win against Syracuse at home Monday, Jan 17 2022 


By Daniel Rankin —

On a Jan 13 ACC Battle, the UofL Women’s Basketball team faced Syracuse University and won with a final score of 84-71. With this win, the Cards now move to 14-1 on the season and an undefeated 4-0 in conference play.

Though Louisville had the lead for most of the game, the two schools were extremely tight as Syracuse stayed neck-and-neck with the Cardinals. Sophomore guard Hailey Van Lith started the game with an impressive 9-point shooting performance in the first quarter.

Running into some early foul trouble, Syracuse struggled to keep up with the Cards. However, late shots by Syracuse closed the gap and kept the score close going into the second quarter at 23-18.

In the second quarter, Louisville could not increase their lead as both teams were tied with 17 points. With some close and intense battles in the paint, the game started to get more aggressive. Forward senior Emily Engstler, a recent U of L transfer, received a technical foul after having verbal conflict with the referees.

The Cards’ defense started to struggle in the second half, allowing multiple 3-point shots. The team also made some costly turnovers in the paint, allowing Syracuse to catch up and even take the lead late in the third quarter.

However, the fourth quarter saw a much improved and dominant Louisville team outscoring the Orange 25-15 to finish the game. The Cardinals forced multiple turnovers, allowing Van Lith and redshirt senior guard Kianna Smith to score and put the game out of reach.

After returning from a brief pause caused by a COVID-19 outbreak, Louisville excelled offensively but seemed to struggle defensively. However, Head Coach Jeff Walz noted that he expected some struggles with less practice recently.

The Cards will play next against ACC title contender NC State on Thursday, Jan. 20.

Photo by Daniel Rankin // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L women’s basketball wins home opener Wednesday, Nov 17 2021 

By: Daniel Rankin–

On Nov. 16, the No. 15 Louisville women’s basketball team won in a dominant 82-25 rout against the Bellarmine University Knights.

Senior Forward Emily Engstler was the standout player of the night with 12 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 4 steals. With the ability to score inside the paint and from the 3 point range, Engstler is a player that many Cards fans should keep an eye on this season.

“I was really pleased with how Emily played,” said head coach Jeff Walz during a post-game interview. “She pursued the ball, she rebounded the ball, she knocked down shots.”

In the first quarter, Engstler and senior guard Kianna Smith made a combined 18 points and pushed the Cards to an early lead. Finishing the quarter strong, Louisville went into the second quarter with a score of 28-10.

Junior guard Norika Konno started the second quarter with a three-pointer, and the game began to fall out of reach for the Knights. With a successful defensive press led by senior guard Mykasa Robinson, the Cards held the Knights to just 2 points in the second quarter. Up 48-14 at halftime, Louisville was in complete control of the game, including Engstler, who already recorded her first double-double of the season.

By the third quarter, Louisville added another 16 points to the board and secured their win by the fourth quarter after a stellar defense done by the Cards.

Although the Cards won comfortably, there were still some struggles, most notable being the lack of three-pointers and the 14 turnovers during the second half.

“We have to be smart enough to stop firing them up when they’re not going in,” said Walz. “They have to make that evaluation themself.”

Walz said the team needs to read each other on the court and know when to make a three-point shot or recover from a turnover.

The Louisville women’s basketball team will be back at the KFC Yum! Center Nov. 17  at 7 p.m. to take on the UT Martin Skyhawks

Photo Courtesy of Taris Smith // U of L Athletics

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U of L women’s basketball will not advance to the Final Four Wednesday, Mar 31 2021 

By: Hannah Walker–

The No. 2 Louisville women’s basketball played against the No. 1 Stanford women’s basketball on March 30 for a shot at the Final Four. U of L lost with a final score of 63-78 and will be closing out their 2020-2021 season.

During the first quarter of the game, Louisville came out with great defense. Senior guard Dana Evans was able to make 10 points and one turnover to put Louisville in the lead. Freshman guard Hailey Van Lith also came out strong, making three points and two rebounds. Louisville went into the second quarter with an eight point stretch over Stanford.

U of L continued to compete hard on defense during the second quarter. Redshirt-junior guard Kianna Smith scored six points during the second quarter and had a total of six rebounds during the first and second quarter. Louisville went into halftime with a 12-point lead.

After halftime though, Stanford came out as a different team. They were stronger on offense and their star player was making consistent three-point shots. Senior Stanford guard Kiana Williams made it tough for Louisville to score against, and it wasn’t long before Stanford started to catch up. Louisville went into the fourth quarter with only a 2-point lead.

During the fourth quarter, Louisville lost their lead to Stanford. Nonetheless, Evans continued to fight and was able to make 11 points. However, this was not enough to catch up before time ran out. U of L took a 15-point loss and will not continue on to the Final Four.

Photo Courtesy of Taris Smith // U of L Athletics

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U of L women’s basketball advances to the Elite 8 Monday, Mar 29 2021 

By: Hannah Walker–

After a win against the Oregon Ducks on March 28, Louisville’s women’s basketball team will be advancing to the Elite 8. The Cards won yesterday’s game with a final score of  60-42.

During the first quarter, Louisville had a great start on offense and scored 10 points. Forward freshman Olivia Cochran, guard redshirt-junior Kianna Smith and freshman guard Hailey Van Lith are just a few of the players that contributed points during this quarter.

By the second quarter, senior guard Dana Evans came back on top after having several off games. She was successfully able to score 13 points, make one turnover and one rebound during her time out on the court. With her help, Louisville held a 15-point lead over Oregon going into the third quarter.

Evans continued to be the star player of the night during the final minutes of the game. She was able to make another seven points during the third quarter, which continued to put Louisville in the lead.

Lith also came out hot during the third quarter when she made two points and two rebounds. Her defense kept Oregon from scoring for most of the quarter and put Louisville at a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

During the fourth quarter, U of L continued to take the lead the entire time on the court. Evans scored another nine points and made one rebound against the Ducks. This led the Cardinals to their win of the night and advanced them to the Elite 8.

“I would just say I played with a poise,” Evans said in a post-game interview. “My teammates are the best and they are always there for me to keep me going.”

She also said she’s excited to play against Stanford during the Elite 8. “I’m excited. They are a really good team with a really good coach, so we’ve got to come in ready to play.”

Louisville women’s basketball will be playing their Elite 8 game against Stanford University on March 30 at 9:00 p.m.

Photo Courtesy of Adam Creech // U of L Athletics 

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The U of L women’s basketball team advances to Sweet 16 Thursday, Mar 25 2021 

By: Hannah Walker–

No. 2 seed University of Louisville women’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 yesterday. They won against Northwestern University on March 24 with a final score of 62-53. Now, they are preparing to play against Oregon University on March 28 at 7:00 p.m.

After a successful season of 24 wins and only 3 losses, the team is ready to take on their final match ups for this year’s March Madness tournament. This will be the first time they have attended as the No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, and they are more excited than ever to make history.

Thanks to the top players they have had this year, the team has been able to have a successful season. Senior guard Dana Evans, freshman guard Hailey Van Lith, junior guard Mykasa Robinson, redshirt junior guard Kianna Smith and freshman forward Olivia Cochran have all been some of the top players. Because of their efforts, the team has been able to have a record-breaking season.

Photo Courtesy of Taris Smith// Louisville Athletics

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