Shorthanded LSU drilled by Louisville
Eight wasn’t enough for LSU, and a full roster might not have helped the seventh-seeded Tigers much against Louisville on Sunday.
After showing their resilience in two wins to reach the Sweet 16, the Tigers were overwhelmed and exposed 73-47 by the third-seeded Cardinals on Sunday.
Danielle Ballard, Jasmine Rhodes and Theresa Plaisance were the only LSU players to score for the first 33 minutes.
That wouldn’t work any day, and it was no match for a Louisville squad that needed just seven players to lead another rout of LSU.
Ballard had 24 points, Rhodes eight and Plaisance seven as the Lady Tigers shot 24 percent from the field. DaShawn Harden also had seven points for the Lady Tigers.
“This team, they did all that they could considering,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said, “and our bench, they came in, and they tried their best. I’m proud of them for that.
“We didn’t execute as well as we wanted to, but it wasn’t that they were fearful. I think, when you look at Louisville, they’re a very experienced team. They have unbelievable guard play. They have depth. They did a nice job of pushing the tempo.”
LSU (21-13) is used to being shorthanded, reaching last year’s Sweet 16 with seven players. The Lady Tigers actually had more bodies a week ago before losing Raigyne Moncrief (knee) and Jeanne Kenney (concussion) to injuries in successive wins over Georgia Tech and West Virginia.
That left them with eight players against the Cardinals, and the disparity showed as the Lady Tigers’ bench was outscored 28-0. LSU had only two assists.
“We were just never in our rhythm, running plays,” said Ballard, who finished 12 of 25 from the field.
Take away Ballard’s shooting and the Lady Tigers were just 4 of 42 from the field.
Shoni Schimmel scored 19 points, Tia Gibbs added five 3-pointers and third-seeded Louisville reached the regional final. The Cardinals moved on to host Maryland on Tuesday night, matching Cardinals coach Jeff Walz against Terrapins counterpart Brenda Frese, whom he worked under from 2002-07.
Antonita Slaughter added 10 points and Asia Taylor had 10 rebounds for Louisville, which shot 40 percent and was outrebounded 48-46 but cruised because of its bench scoring and others getting involved.
In the first two rounds, Ballard led a balanced attack featuring at least four double-digit scorers for LSU. The Tigers ranked fifth in the postseason at 87 points per contest, just ahead of Louisville (85.5).
Ballard quickly picked up where she left off, following Rhodes’ game-opening layup with five straight baskets for the Lady Tigers, who led 12-9 with 12:31 left in the half. Ballard added a bank shot, but by then Louisville was on a 15-2 run over the next 4:04 as Gibbs hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Jude Schimmel hit another long-range jumper on a kick-out pass from Taylor.
It wasn’t close again as the Cardinals led by as many as 29 with 2 1/2 minutes left. Disappointing as that was for the Lady Tigers, they feel confident about returning next year — hopefully at full strength.
“I know we’re going to have a pretty big some big shoes to fill with the seniors leaving and everything,” Rhodes said, “but it’s been a nice run with them, and I’m happy to have had this opportunity.
“But for next year, we just want to keep working hard. I know Coach is not going to let up any. So just going to keep working hard and having fun as much as we can and do our part to get back here and even further.”