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Smith Saves the Day for Storm

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Louisville forced overtime with an Antonita Slaughter 3, but the Red Storm outscored the Cardinals 12-5 in the overtime to claim a 68-61 win. Shenneika Smith led St. John's with 24 points and eight rebounds, while Nadirah McKenith added 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists. For Louisville, Shoni Schimmel and Antonita Slaughter each had 16, with 11 of Schimmel's in the first half and 13 of Slaughter's in the second.

For rebounding, free throws, levitation, amazing shots, and why you need to guard shooters, join your intrepid and exhausted blogger after the jump.

Then there was an intermission, and much to my horror, I discovered that my battery had died, and because it took so long to find affordable food around the XL Center (what kind of arena neighborhood can't support a McDonald's?) I didn't have a chance to work on notes during the intermission like I thought I would, and I deeply apologize.

I do recommend Burger Baby, but not if you're in a hurry. Good, gourmet burgers. The meatloaf burger is amazing.

For the night session, also known as the entire damn reason we went to Hartford instead of Philadelphia in the first place, we got tickets through St. John's. Since St. John's was the higher seed, their allocation was right behind the home bench. I believe the applicable phrase in this situation is "Oh. Hell. Yeah." The seats were almost too close- it was hard to see plays at the other end of the floor, and you can't exactly tell Bonita Spence "DOWN IN FRONT!". Well, you can, but I wouldn't want to try.

I miss the hockey jerseys Louisville's band used to wear. They were stylish and awesome. These new band uniforms are too generic. The St. John's band brought out more wigs than usual, though I didn't see the gnome. That's a shame. I like the gnome. I guess he's not a traveling gnome. :P

So many shinies! Da'Shena Stevens cleaned up. I took lots of pictures. I don't think I've ever claimed not to have a horse in this race.

I did not get to see the comedic stylings of Jeff Walz, since my angle was wrong, but he had some good reasons to be annoyed and confused at the officiating.

Antonita Slaughter saved the day for Louisville. Shoni Schimmel will get all the attention, and she deserves attention, but she showed more detailed range with mid-range shots in addition to the long ball, and she hit the boards well. I was not expecting that out of her, and I was duly impressed. She was the one who stepped up in the second half, while Schimmel was making noise in the first half. This is my second time seeing Jude Schimmel, and so far I'm not impressed with her. Maybe she'll blossom later, but right now she seems like a small guard who isn't sure about her position and has no outstanding qualities. Sara Hammond got fairly physical in her time in the game, but wasn't statistically relevant. Shelby Harper only came in at the end of the game, when Bria Smith fouled out and someone needed to take her place; I think Walz was thinking threes, but for all I know he just wanted a fresh set of fouls. Shawnta' Dyer committed some rough fouls. I thinks he was the one who was undercutting a lot.

Normally, I don't object to letting Shoni Schimmel go bombs away. She's a volume shooter and not a high-percentage one. Of course, in the first half, she was hot, with 11 points, and we were screaming at our team to guard her. (Defining "we" as your intrepid blogger, her dashing husband, and Kim's son Trevor, who should be a coach someday.) She cooled off in the second half as Shenneika Smith kicked up the D, but her teammates stepped up. Bria Smith scored all her points in the second; Becky Burke hit two big threes to give Louisville the momentum they needed to force the overtime. I've already mentioned Slaughter. Sheronne Vails got the start to provide some size in the middle, but Walz played her very little once it was clear who had the hot hand.

Keylantra Langley usually has a knack for making the big shot at the right time, and her field goal to end the first half was a prime example of that. She had one really awful turnover in a similar situation with the shot clock running down, but was otherwise solid. Tesia Harris was off her game- you can't stand there and watch shots when everyone in the building has been shooting like intramural kids, you have to crash the boards, especially when Louisville is absolutely slaughtering you on the boards. (Intentional pun is in fact intentional.) Briana Brown parlayed her big game against Georgetown into being the first player off the bench, but while she showed amazing hustle going after loose balls, she was not as effective as she had been against the Hoyas.

Amber Thompson, stop dribbling. You're six-two with surprisingly broad shoulders for your build. When you rip that rebound out of the air, go up strong with it, because when you do that, no one will be able to stop you except yourself. If she stops doing that, and if she can become more accurate with her chip shots, she'll be a force to be reckoned with not just in the Big East, but in all of college basketball. She's only a freshman. I believe she can learn- she's got the right person on the bench to learn from in Joy McCorvey. Eugeneia McPherson had a solid game with no egregious mistakes that I can recall. Da'Shena Stevens had to contend with the Louisville rebounders, but was able to draw fouls on them, and her game picked up in the second half. She can be sneaky like that sometimes. Nadirah McKenith, sporting a nifty new ponytail look, ran the offense well, though not as well as we've become used to. She wore down a little near the end of the game. Kim, please don't kill our point guard, we don't have any spares right now. Shenneika Smith was the hero of the day. She produced and produced hard on both ends of the floor, slashing to the rim, hitting threes, defending Schimmel- her steal and fast-break lay-up was the prettiest play of the game for me. All she needed was a cape.

Apparently there was an issue with the arrow and the refs gave the ball to the wrong team at the start of the second half. I hadn't noticed, but that was because my brain was starting to glaze over. I did think it was odd that the foul was on Briana when she was the one holding her shoulder in pain, and Nadirah didn't step out of bounds by herself. Also, it is not a good idea to get fancy with your footwork in front of Bonita Spence. That doesn't end well. Overall, the officiating was sketchy, and both coaches were ready to kill someone by the end of regulation.

We did our part to represent, and I'd like to think we played a role in Louisville's abysmal free throw shooting in the first half with our disconcerting of the shooter. The towels were whirling, and my throat still hurts from cheering.

Huge shoutout to the RedZone member who won the American Eagle shootout, nailing not just the $50 free throw, not just the $100 three-pointer, but a halfcourt shot for free jeans for a year. We really are taking the Big East by storm, aren't we?

We out-toughed Louisville, especially in the overtime. But those Cards can be a dangerously good team. I give them credit and more for not folding under pressure.