After upsetting No. 1 Baylor Sunday night and rolling past 2-seed Tennessee 86-78 Tuesday night, the Louisville women's basketball team is headed to New Orleans for the 2013 Final Four.
The Cardinals took the last spot in the Fina Four, joining fellow Big East teams Notre Dame and Connecticut and California from the Pac-12.
Fifth-seeded Louisville, making the program's second Final Four under coach Jeff Walz, will play 2-seed California in the first national semifinal in New Orleans Sunday night at 6:05 ET. The second semifinal features No. 1 seeds Connecticut and Notre Dame squaring off for the fourth time this season.
The Cardinals led by 15 points at the half, 41-26. Louisville opened the second half hot, and, after back-to-back threes by Antonita Slaughter and Shoni Schimmel, the Cardinals led 49-29 with just under 16 minutes left.
Tennessee chipped away at the UofL lead until the Cardinals led 62-53 with just over nine minutes left. Louisville scored to push the lead back to double digits, but a big three by Meighan Simmons cut the margin to eight.
The teams traded baskets, and Tennessee cut the margin to 66-59 on a 1-2 trip to the free throw line. Two possessions later at the 5:56 mark, UofL sophomore guard Bria Smith picked up her fifth foul, leaving the game with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Tennessee's Taber Spani hit two free throws to cut Louisville's lead to 66-61. A pair of free throws by Monique Reid put Louisville up 68-61, but Tennessee answered with a jumper on the next possession.
Kamiko Williams hit a jumper in the paint to cut Louisville's lead to 68-65, and a UofL turnover gave Tennessee a chance to tie the score with just over four minutes left, but a three-point attempt rimmed out and Reid was fouled on the rebound.
Reid hit both free throws to put Louisville up 70-65. Neither team scored on their next possession, but Jude Schimmel was fouled with 3:23 left and she hit both free throws.
A three from the top of the key from Simmons cut Louisville's lead to 72-68, but Shoni Schimmel answered with a driving bankshot. An airballed three gave Louisville the ball back, and Jude Schimmel nailed a three from the wing to take a 77-68 lead.
After another three by Tennessee's Simmons cut the lead to 77-71, Shoni Schimmel hit another driving layup. Simmons was called for traveling with 1:30 left, and Louisville pushed its lead back to double digits, 81-71, on an easy bankshot on the low block by Reid with 1:03 left.
Shoni Schimmel hit two free throws to put Louisville up 83-71, but Simmons hit a three from the top of the key to cut the margin back to nine. A pair of free throws by Jude Schimmel put UofL up 85-74 with 32.7 seconds left.
Louisville won 86-78 with the help of 39 points from the Schimmel sisters, 24 from Shoni and 15 from Jude.