No. 5 Louisville women routs No. 14 LSU, 88-67
Louisville's women demonstrated that ''the boom'' isn't limited to the Cardinals' national championship men's team.
Judging from how thorough Asia Taylor and her fifth-ranked teammates used a big scoring spurt to put away No. 14 LSU, they might have even taken the men's description of that kind of run to another level.
Taylor scored 23 points and Louisville held LSU scoreless for 5:35 during a 21-0 second-half run en route to an 88-67 rout in Thursday night's semifinal of the preseason WNIT.
''I really think it was just us capitalizing on mismatches and stuff,'' said Taylor, who was 10 of 16 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds in her third game back after missing last season with a hip injury.
''We were looking at big bodies in the post and we really didn't want to drive in there. Once the game started and we saw we could get around them because they were kind of lazy on defense, we knew we were either going to get a layup or we were going to get our teammates shots, so that became the focal point for our offense.''
The Cardinals executed the plan early, often and quickly - just as the Tigers seemed poised to make it a tight game.
Leading 40-38 seconds into the second half, the Cardinals (3-0) used that run as part of a 41-16 surge to build an 81-54 lead with 5:30 remaining, turning a game that figured to be a tough early test for both teams into a rout.
That kind of quick, stunning turn has come to be known as ''the boom,'' which Louisville's men used often during last spring during their title run.
Louisville shot 61 percent in the second half while holding LSU (2-1) to just 10 of 32 in the final 20 minutes and 25 of 67 (37 percent) overall.
''Obviously when you play a team like Louisville, a team that was at the Final Four, you know that they're very capable and very good,'' LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said.
Shoni Schimmel bounced back from 1-of-13 shooting on Monday to make 7 of 11 and finish with 15 points. Antonita Slaughter added 12 points and Sara Hammond and Bria Smith had 11 each for the Cardinals, who will meet No. 11 Oklahoma in Sunday's championship. The Sooners beat No. 25 Gonzaga 82-78.
Louisville shot 37 of 64 from the field (58 percent), outrebounded LSU 45-33 and dominated the paint 54-26 thanks to quickness that frequently beat the bigger Tigers featuring 6-foot-5 post player Theresa Plaisance.
Plaisance and Raigyne Moncrief scored 13 points each for the Tigers and Jeanne Kenney added 11.
The game began with the season-high crowd of 8,099 a little more festive thanks to a promotion in which Cardinals coach Jeff Walz bought one $2 beer for the first 2,500 spectators at their 22,090-seat downtown arena. Tickets were also discounted from $10 to $6, resulting in longer than usual lines at the concession stands.
''I think the crowd was great,'' Walz said. ''It's a way to create some buzz, and I think it's done that.''
From there the Cardinals went about creating a roar, just days after Walz called them out for attention and energy lapses in Monday's 100-82 victory over Quinnipiac. The coach believed many areas needed improvement against a Tigers team featuring Plaisance and a defense that outrebounded Saint Joseph's 50-30 in Sunday's 80-64 victory.
Taylor's 5-of-5 shooting jump-started Louisville's 7-of-9 start that built a 15-6 lead. LSU made it easy by missing 7 of its first 9 from the field and allowing the Cardinals second-chance baskets.
Plaisance returned from a brief stretch on the bench to help a 30-20 run over the next 12:50 for the last of two brief leads at 36-35 with 2:06 left in the half. Schimmel scored the final five points to give Louisville a 40-36 halftime lead built on 17-of-31 shooting (55 percent).
After Moncrief's quick basket to open the second half brought LSU within 40-38, Louisville turned up the heat at both ends in mounting a 41-16 run for an 81-54 lead en route to an unexpectedly lopsided outcome.
''They got a lot of second-chance points and we just took away the weak-side rebounding,'' Smith said. ''That pretty much stopped their offense. We stopped that and then we went on a run.''