Women's Hoops: #7 Kentucky Wildcats 69, #3 Louisville Cardinals 64:  Postmortem

US PRESSWIRE

Kentucky rallied in the second half to take down arch-rival Louisville for the third straight season.

Once again, for the third straight season, the Kentucky Wildcats defeat the Louisville Cardinals in women's basketball, 69-64, this year in Memorial Colosseum. This was a great win for Kentucky over their bitter rivals, and it moves the Wildcats to 8-0 on the young season and should move them into the top five in the country.

Congratulations to the Louisville Cardinals, who gave a typically great effort in this game. Shoni Schimmel was very quiet in the first half, but was a major factor in the second, and Louisville generally dominated the rebounding, which really put Kentucky in a big first half hole. Schimmel wound up with a team-leading 17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, but also had 5 turnovers. It was a noble effort by the Cardinals, but ultimately, Kentucky appeared to wear them down.

Kentucky came out in the second half and gradually seized control of the game, despite some fits and starts that saw them go on an 11-0 run, and turnovers allowed the Cardinals to immediately respond with a 6-0 run of their own. Kentucky just kept grinding away and eventually grabbed the lead for good 3/4 of the way through the second half. The Cardinals would get within a single field goal a couple of times thereafter, but Kentucky was not to be denied.

Observations:

  • Jennifer O'Neil was a major factor in the second half, even though she shot the ball very poorly at 3/10. But she hit the huge shot with about 1 minute to go from the top of the key that put the lead at 5 points, and placed Kentucky firmly in control.

  • Kentucky's rebounding was very poor in the first half, but they made up for it with a much better second half. DeNesha Stallworth and Samarie Walker had 8 rebounds with Azia Bishop chipping in 7.  Stallworth gets my game ball - she was dominant at times inside and made huge free throws at the end of the game.

  • Despite their aggressive "40 minutes of dread" defensive style, the Wildcats managed to keep fouls to a relative minimum with 17, while the Cardinals had 24 and saw two player foul out.

  • Kentucky's free throw shooting continues to be a worry, particularly O'Neil's. She can nail 3-point shots, but is always an adventure at the line. That's purely a mental thing that she needs to get under control, as she gets fouled a lot.

  • The same shots that Kentucky was missing in the first half failed to fall in the second for Louisville. Bizarre reversal of fortune.

  • Both Kentucky and Louisville shot under 40% from the field. I credit the defense for both squads for much of that.

  • As a team, Kentucky shot 47% from three, 8/17. That's really good, but Kentucky does need to tighten up their interior shooting in traffic.

  • Kentucky had 17 turnovers, but forced 24 from the Cardinals.

  • Full game statistics here.

All in all, it is a great win for Kentucky, and despite the success the Cardinals had on the hardwood last season, they have yet to beat Kentucky with their highest-ranked teams ever. The Wildcats simply seem to have their number, and while that is a good thing, Kentucky now needs to translate the success against the Cardinals into success against everybody else. They'll get a chance to do that immediately, because their next game is against #9 Baylor in Arlington, Texas.

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