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November 18, 2013

Cards storm back to claim WNIT




The University of Louisville women's basketball team wanted it more.

Oklahoma wanted this one badly; a packed house full of crazed Sooners going bonkers, desperate to make an impression, hungry for a championship. Who knew the Okies loved women's basketball so much?

Pumped from the adrenaline, the home court advantage, and an early technical foul on Jeff Walz, the Oklahomans raced to a 9-0 lead and extend it to 17-2 before reality set in.

The UofL women weren't going to roll over. They've been in this situation before, in opposite situations, knowing that early leads are just that, early leads than can be overcome with patience. UofL had three starters in early foul trouble, were whistled for 34 fouls and outscored 35-20 from the free-throw line.

But fifth-ranked Cardinals prevailed 97-92 over the 11th-ranked Sooners in overtime.

Tia Gibbs, taking up where she left off two years ago, carried the Cardinals on her shoulders, contributing 20 points in the first half. Her third three-pointer would give UofL its first lead 40-39 at the 2:10 mark in the first half. Her fourth three gave the Cardinals a 48-43 advantage at the half. She led all scorers with 23 points, a career high.

Oklahoma wormed its way back late in the second half and owned an 85-82 advantage with 23 seconds remaining in regulation. Jude Schimmel dribbled the length of the court for two layups between an Oklahoma hit and a miss at the free throw line to send the game into overtime at 86-86.

The Louisville women scored nine of the first 10 points in overtime, sparked by a three-pointer from Antonita Slaughter. The Sooners had two chances to tie it in the last 15 seconds, but shots by Morgan Hook and Aaryn Ellenberg (or Ellenberger, according to one TV analyst) were off target.

Shoni Schimmel finished with 16 points, most of them in the second half, while Asia Taylor had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Sara Hammond was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

Oklahoma had home court advantage, a 15-point early lead and more than a few friendly whistles on their side.

But Louisville just wanted it more.

Charlie Springer is the moderator of UofLCardGame.com, a legislative affairs consultant, a former editor of Louisville Magazine and a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal. Fans can read more of his columns at UofLCardGame.com


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