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March 30, 2014

WOMEN'S NCAA TOURNAMENT: Louisville blows by LSU to reach Elite 8

LOUISVILLE — After reaching the National Championship game last season, the motto for the Louisville Cardinals this season has been “Unfinished Business.”

On  Sunday, they took one step closer to that goal as they advanced to the Elite Eight with a 73-47 victory over LSU before a crowd of 11,097 at the KFC Yum! Center.

Louisville (33-4) was able to to take advantage of the Tigers’ misfortunes as LSU dressed only eight players as they were missing two starters due to injuries.

Louisville trailed 12-9 early before a Sara Hammond basket started a 18-4 run by the Cardinals. The stretch included a trio of 3-pointers by reserve Tia Gibbs and another by Jude Schimmel. Louisville led 41-23 at halftime.

LSU (21-13) did manage the first basket after halftime and there may have been an anxious moment or two as Hammond picked up her third foul just over a minute in. But Louisville was never threatened as it built the lead to as much as 29 points.

“The first thing I want to do is thank the fans,” said Louisville coach Jeff Walz. “What an environment. That’s what we want to get as many fans as we can to come out. That’s good for our game.”

“After last season, we know what It’s like to be on the ‘other’ side,” Shoni Schimmel senior. “We don’t wan’t to take anyone lightly.”

Shoni Schimmel led Louisville with 19 points. Gibbs, who finished with five 3-pointers, added 15 points and Antonita Slaughter had 10. Asia Taylor grabbed 10 rebounds.

Danielle Ballard led LSU and was the only Tiger in double figures with 24 points. The Tigers had three with double figure rebounds, led by Theresa Plaisance with 12.

LSU did win the boards 48-46, but it was all for naught as the Tigers managed only two assists and had 12 turnovers. For the game, they shot 24 percent (16-67).

Louisville shot almost 40 percent (25-63), had 21 assists and only 10 turnovers, and led by Gibbs, the Cardinals hit 12 threes.

“I’m just extremely proud of this group,” said LSU coach Nikki Caldwell. “Their unbelivable spirit, it shows what they can achive.”

Louisville’s opponent on Tuesday will be Maryland. The fourth-seeded Terrapins upset top-seed Tennessee 73-62 in the first game of the regional Sunday afternoon.

Maryland (27-6) got off to a quick start and led 41-27 at halftime. The Vols were still in striking distance, trailing 60-52 with 6:27 left, but Maryland put the game out of reach with a 10-4 run making it 70-56 with just 2:31 left.

Alyssa Thomas led four Terps with 33 points and 13 rebounds. Meighan Simmons led Tennessee (29-6) with 31 points.

“We knew we could get to the rim on them and that was my mentality,” Thomas said. “Just get to the rim and try to get easy shots.”

Entering the game, Tennessee was on a nine-game winning streak and had won 15 of their last 16.

“You know this game was everything we thought it was going to be, just a phenominal game by both teams,” said Maryland coach Brenda Frese. “We want to continue to be under the radar, make sure nobody writes about us and talks about us. But I’m really proud of our teamand what we were able to accomplish today.”

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