Giant Slayers: UofL women hold off Tennessee, 86-78, to go to the Final Four

04/02/2013 10:30 PM

It was the Schimmel show in Oklahoma City Wednesday night as guards Shoni Schimmel and her younger sister Jude combined for 34 points, including several key shots in the final two minutes to put away Tennessee.

The Lady Cards outlasted the second-seeded Volunteers, who pulled within four points with three minutes left after being down by as many as 20 points earlier in the second half.

The fifth-seeded Cardinals move on to the Final Four to face California. UofL is only the second No. 5 seed in the history of the women’s tournament to make the Final Four joining the Jackie Stiles-led Missouri State in 2001. It’s the Cardinals’ first trip to the Final Four since 2009.

“Nobody wants us to win. Nobody wants to see us beat Baylor. Nobody wants to see us beat Tennessee. And guess what? We did both of those. And now we’re going to the Final Four,” Shoni Schimmel told ESPN’s Maria Taylor before UofL Coach Jeff Walz swept Schimmel up in a spinning hug.

Louisville held off a steady Tennessee charge over the last 10 minutes of the game as many of the Cards’ starters were in foul trouble. Sophomore guard Bria Smith fouled out with 5:56 left.

But each time Tennessee came within sniffing distance of the lead, Shoni Schimmel seemed to hit key shots — even if it meant making them quickly and not milking the clock. She led all scorers with 24 points.

Jude Schimmel added a big three with just under two minutes in the game to put UofL up 77-71.

Tennessee’s Meighan Simmons answered with a quick three-pointer of her own.

Then Shoni Schimmel drove all the way for a nifty layup to keep the Vols at arm’s length, 79-71.

The UofL defense held Simmons, the SEC’s top scorer this year, without a point until 8:22 left in the game when she hit a three-pointer. She finished with 12 points. Taber Spani was Tennessee’s top scorer with 20 points.

Louisville didn’t need to rely on the three-pointer the way they did Sunday night when the toppled No. 1 Baylor hitting 16 from behind the arc. On Wednesday night they drained eight three-pointers.


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