Greensboro, N.C. -- For the first time since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, the top-seeded Louisville Cardinals will play for the ACC Championship. Louisville bounced back from another sluggish start to overcome the North Carolina State Wolfpack in a 64-59 decision.
"You know, it’s just the one thing I can say about this team, I’ve got confidence in them," Louisville head coach Jeff Walz said. "I’ve got faith in them. I trust them. You know, we got down early, and I didn’t call time-outs. You know, I’m like, hey, you guys got it, let’s go. Let’s execute."
But, the Cardinals have not had an easy road. Both Virginia Tech and North Carolina State have given Louisville a run for its money.
For the second game in a row, Louisville had to look to someone other than Asia Durr for scoring.
The Cardinals had no problem picking up the slack. Sam Fuehring collected 15 points and Jazmine Jones added 13. Myisha Hines-Allen also helped out the Cardinals with 12 points and Arica Carter notched 11 points. Again, Louisville proved when one player is out, others can step up to the plate.
The Cardinals struggled with NC State early as Chelsea Nelson picked up seven points in the first 4:40. Durr’s lack of defense forced Louisville head coach Jeff Walz to sit his leading scorer on the bench for nearly two minutes.
Louisville pulled within one point after a layup from Bianca Dunham, but the Wolfpack countered with a Kiara Leslie layup and an Aislinn Konig triple. At the end of the first quarter, NC State held an 18-12 advantage over the Cardinals.
But, Louisville did not look terrible. The Cardinals shot 45% and Fuehring led Louisville with six points. The Cardinals leading scorers went 1-of-3 from the field in the first frame. Louisville’s biggest struggle was a lack of rebounding. NC State outrebounded Louisville, 11-4.
Coach Jeff Walz told leading rebounder Hines-Allen if she did not start rebounding, he would put her on the bench.
Luckily for Louisville, Hines-Allen responded. The senior forward came out strong in the second quarter, grabbing three boards. The Cardinals got down as much as eight before Jones connected on a jump-shot, which led Louisville on a 7-0 run. The Cardinals pulled within one, 24-23.
The Wolfpack would not give up. Nelson collected five quick points, putting NC State back up by six.
The Cardinals fought back, holding the Wolfpack scoreless for the final four minutes before the half, while Louisville was able to take the lead for the first time, 32-31.
Louisville shot 64% in the second quarter with scoring from Hines-Allen, Jones and Arica Carter.
Out of the half, Louisville came out focused. The Cardinals hit seven field goals on six assists and grabbed four rebounds in the first five minutes. Louisville outscored NC State 14-7 to take a 46-38 lead.
But, Jones picked up her third foul and Louisville struggled to hold on to the ball, turning it over three times at the end of the third frame.
NC State capitalized on Louisville’s scoring woes, running out on a 6 - 0 run to come within three, 47-44.
The Wolfpack were able to come within four, but ultimately, NC State did not have to power to upset Louisville.
"We’re really excited about the opportunity to play tomorrow, there’s no question about that," Louisville head coach Jeff Walz said. "And we’re going to enjoy this for a few hours here until we find out who we play."
The Cardinals had four players notch double-figures: Sam Fuehring led Louisville with 15 points on 50% shooting. Jazmine Jones added 13 to go along with four assists. Myisha Hines-Allen picked up 12 points and seven boards, while Arica Carter finished with 11 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
For the Wolfpack, two players grabbed double-digits: Chelsea Nelson led all players with 20 points and nine rebounds. While Akela Maize added 14 points and eight boards.
The top-seeded Louisville Cardinals will face the winner of Florida State and Notre Dame tomorrow, March 4th.