Making it to the Final Four last year, No. 5 Louisville learned
one important lesson. No matter the situation, nothing is
So when they found themselves down by 15 points to No. 11
Oklahoma, the Cardinals didn’t panic. They just kept on playing
Louisville basketball. That was enough for them to storm back and
earn a hard fought 97-92 overtime win over the Sooners on Sunday in
the Preseason WNIT Championship game.
”I think we are very experienced team.” Louisville’s Sara
Hammond said. ”We are veterans. Coach kept telling us don’t panic.
We had confidence we were going to get stops on defense and get
back in this game. And you saw it on the court.”
In the extra period, Louisville jumped out to a 95-87 lead with
1:39 left on the clock. Morgan Hook hit two free throws and got the
Sooner to within six points.
Aaryn Ellenberg hit her third 3-pointer of the afternoon closed
the deficit to 95-92. The Cardinals (4-0) then turned it over on
the inbounds pass with 25 seconds on the clock.
The Sooners got the ball to Hook, who’s 3-point attempt was off
the mark. OU got the rebound and it was Ellenberg’s turn. But her
shot also fell short and that ended the Sooners upset bid.
”I am really proud of our team,” OU coach Sherri Coale said.
”What a great basketball game. What a great showcase for women’s
college basketball. I think everybody here was entertained and
everybody who watched at home was entertained as well.”
Ellenberg paced the Sooners (3-1) with 22 points and 12
rebounds. Sharene Campbell added 19 points, five rebounds and three
steals in the loss.
Tia Gibbs scored 23 points and had nine rebounds to lead
Louisville. Shoni Schimmel scored 16 points while Asia Taylor had a
double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Hammond, the
tournament MVP, posted 13 points and seven rebounds.
”It’s an honor, any individual award you get,” Hammond said.
”But this is a team MVP type thing. Each game, someone stepped up
big time throughout the tournament.”
After falling behind 17-2 Tia Gibbs led the Cardinals back into
the game. They closed to within 35-34 with 4:25 left in the first
half. Louisville did it by pounding the glass and the getting
second chance points. But it was a 3-pointer by Shoni Williams that
gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game at 40-39.
In the final 13 minutes of the first half, Louisville outscored
Oklahoma 46-26 and took a 48-43 halftime advantage.
”Oklahoma came out and absolutely just punched us square in the
nose,” Cardinals coach Jeff Walz said. ”We didn’t respond well. I
told my staff, I’m not calling time out. I don’t care if it gets to
30-2. It’s the fourth game of the year and I was going to challenge
my players. They have to learn to figure some things out by
Late in the second half, the Sooners got their defense back to
the pace it had set in the first half. Along with Kaylon Williams
asserting herself in the post, the OU stormed back to take a 78-77
advantage. Ellenberg drained a 3-pointer and Campbell knocked in a
pair of free throws to give OU a five point lead with 1:28
Shoni Schimmel was fouled while hitting a running jumper. She
completed the 3-point play and closed the gap to 83-80.
After forcing Louisville into a turnover, Hammond was fouled and
sent to the line where she hit both free throws. OU led 83-82 with
50 seconds on the clock.
The final minute of regulation went at a frenetic pace.
Ellenberg nailed jumper with 23.3 left to give Oklahoma a 85-82
lead. Jude Schimmel quickly responded and closed the gap to one
After Carter hit 1-for-2 from the charity stripe, Oklahoma led
by two points. But Jude Schimmel went coast to coast and laid in an
uncontested layup to tie the game at 86-86 with 17 seconds
”Jude Schimmel got the rim so fast,” Coale said. ”I thought
it was her layup, before the layup that tied it that really hurt
us. If we could have just forced them into using 10 to 12 seconds
on the shot clock, it’s ours. We own the game.”
Ellenberg had a chance to end the game in regulation when she
drove the court and had an open layup attempt. But the senior was
unable to put it down as the buzzer sounded and the game went into
”It’s a top 15 battle.” Hammond said. ”And of course, we are
here on Oklahoma court. They are very good at home. These are the
games you love. This is why people come to pay their money to watch
us. We didn’t want it to go to overtime, but I am glad people got
their money’s worth with a game like this.”