Bowling Green, KY College basketball in Kentucky is no joke. Kentuckians live, eat, breathe, sleep college hoops. Any time two in-state teams face off you're guaranteed a physical battle to the end. Today's matchup between the Louisville Cardinals and the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers was no exception.
From the tip off, the Hilltoppers took control. The Tops outscored the Cardinals 16-9 in the first period, forcing eight turnovers. The Cardinals had trouble connecting, shooting 23.1%. The Tops capitalized on both the turnovers and the shooting struggles, connecting on 7-14 from the field, 2-2 from three.
"At this point in time, we're really not competing," Coach Jeff Walz said in his post-game press conference. "Unfortunately, we have a talented group of young women. Very talented as individuals. We're not a very good team yet."
The Toppers defense proved to be a task too tall for the Cardinals in the first period. The Tops led 16-9 going into the second period.
However, the tides seemed to change in the second period. Fueled by two Briahanna Jackson three-pointers, the Cardinals erased a seven-point deficit. The second period saw Freshman Center Erin DeGrate's first points as a Cardinal, connecting on a free throw.
Western Kentucky senior point guard Micah Jones went down in the second period and did not return. But the Tops did not miss a beat.
"It was sad, but we knew that we had to get the win for her," Sophomore Tashia Brown told the media.
Junior Guard, and Kentucky native, Kendall Noble took over at the one spot, putting up four points in the second period.
Despite the loss of a major player, Micah Jones, the Tops led 33-32 at the half.
The Cardinals struck first in the third period on a Myisha Hines-Allen layup, followed by a Mariya Moore three-point shot. Moore led the team in the third period putting up five points. Followed closely by Freshman Asia Durr and Junior Briahanna Jackson with three points each. The Cardinals outscored the Tops 17-13 in the third period and led 49-46 going into the final period.
The Cardinals entered the fourth period strong, but the Tops were stronger. The game went down to the wire, but ultimately it was the Hilltoppers who came out victorious. Kendall Noble put up 14 points in the fourth period, sealing the fate of the Cardinals.
"We've got to get a better performance from our interior play. That's an area that we've got to get better in a hurry," Coach Walz told the media.
The Cardinals continue to battle youth and inexperience. Shooting 33.3% from the field, the Louisville women just haven't quite found their groove.
Coach Walz went on to say, "After a 0-2 start, that might be a wake-up call."