Louisville, KY -- The 3-seed Louisville Cardinals have a tough challenge in the second round of the NCAA Tournament as they face the 6-seed DePaul Blue Demons on Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center.
The two programs have a long history spanning over two conferences; Conference USA and the BIG EAST. Louisville and DePaul have met 31 times. DePaul holds hold a 16-15 advantage, but Louisville has won six of the previous nine matches.
"Louisville has done a great job of growing their game of basketball here." DePaul head coach Doug Bruno spoke of the series, "Louisville and DePaul have a history, 18 years, 10 in the Conference USA and 8 in the Big East and it's been fun to watch the program go from the little gym that sat about 1500 people to their ability to draw 10, 15,000 people."
Louisville enters the matchup fresh off an 87-60 first round victory over the 14-seed Central Arkansas Sugar Bears. The Cardinals found out firsthand the Sugar Bears can pack a punch.
Central Arkansas sprinted out of the gate to take a 25-22 lead after the first 10 minutes. The 25 first period points was the most Louisville has allowed in an opening stanza all season. Despite the remarkable first half for the Sugar Bears, their lead was short lived.
The Cardinals came out strong in the second period. Hines-Allen connected on 5-of-6 from the floor, racking up 11 second period points. Coach Jeff Walz credited junior transfer Dakota Weatherford for the Cardinals' change in pace.
When asked about the turning point in the second period, Coach Walz told the media, "Dakota was the whole reason. It's the whole reason. We need to give credit where credit is due, and that's Dakota Weatherford came in the game and changed it.
Weatherford grabbed two huge steals for Louisville that led to five points and put the Cardinals up by two. Louisville closed out the second period on a 17-2 run, taking a 51-34 lead at the half. The Sugar Bears were unable to recover from the deficit. The Cardinals sailed ahead behind an 87-60 decision.
The Cardinals had three players grab double-figures: Myisha Hines-Allen led all scorers racking up 25 points on 12-of-17 shooting while leading the Cardinals of the glass pulling down seven rebounds.
Mariya Moore chipped in 16 points and dished out four assists while Sam Fuehring added 12 points in 27 minutes. The Cardinals finished the game shooting 54.8% from the floor while dishing out 22 assists, the most in a tournament game in program history.
DePaul defeated James Madison in a 97-67 decision on Friday afternoon. The Blue Demons sealed the deal behind 11 3-pointers and 53.6% shooting. DePaul crashed the glass pulling down a season-best 55 rebounds. DePaul had six players grab double-figures in the victory:
Jessica January paced the Blue Demons picking up 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor. January was perfect beyond the arc connecting on all three of her shots. Jacqui Grant collected 15 point on 7-of-12 shooting while pulling down nine boards.
Mart'e Grays earned her first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Megan Podkowa, Brooke Schulte and Ashton Millender chipped in 10 points apiece. Chanise Jenkins is leading DePaul in scoring racking up 14.7 points per game.
Podkowa is tallying 14.3 points on 56.2% shooting from the field. January rounds out the top scorers with 13.6 points. DePaul has three players with more than 100 assists on the season. January leads with 202, Jenkins has 173 and Podkowa has dished out 108.
The Cardinals and the Blue Demons tip off at 2:30 PM EST. The contest will air on ESPN2.