No. 16 Louisville 76, No. 21 Purdue 63

Louisville refuses to dwell on all the players lost to injuries

this season, especially with so many other Cardinals taking over

now that it matters most.

Sophomore Sara Hammond had 21 points and 10 rebounds to help

fifth-seeded Louisville beat Purdue 76-63 Tuesday night and advance

to its second NCAA tournament regional semifinal in three

years.

”I’m as proud of this basketball team as I was of our team that

played for a national championship in 2009,” Louisville coach Jeff

Walz said. ”With the amount of injuries that we’ve sustained, and

they’re not just one week, two weeks you miss. We’ve got kids that

are missing the entire season. We’ve had Mo (Monique Reid) playing

on one leg. We found a way to continue to play.”

Now the Cardinals (26-8) will play top-seeded Baylor on Sunday

in Oklahoma City in the program’s fourth regional semifinal in the

last six years. That’s despite losing sophomore forward Shanta’

Dyer to a torn ACL and MCL in December while guard Tia Gibbs and

forward Asia Taylor haven’t played at all this season.

Reid was a game-time decision with swelling in her left knee,

but the fifth-year senior played 23 minutes on her 23rd birthday.

Reid had eight points and six rebounds.

Antonita Slaughter, who moved into the starting lineup because

of the injuries, scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half for

Louisville. Shoni Schimmel had 14. Jude Schimmel had eight steals,

six assists, four rebounds, seven points and only one turnover.

”Right now we’re just excited to be heading to Oklahoma City

for the Sweet 16,” Hammond said.

The fourth-seeded Boilermakers (25-9) snapped a five-game

winning streak and now have lost in the second round three straight

years.

”When you play on home courts, some people can upset people,”

Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said. ”Some people can’t. With

Louisville, it was their night tonight.”

Sam Ostarello led Purdue with 16 points and 12 rebounds. KK

Houser had 10. With the Cardinals chasing Purdue’s guards, Courtney

Moses, who hit five 3s in the first round, had just seven

points.

Louisville never trailed in beating Purdue for the first time in

six games. These teams hadn’t met since 1993, and the Cardinals’

program has grown to a new level in the past two decades with this

– a game that had Louisville men’s coach Rick Pitino in the stands

as part of a very loud crowd of 9,236.

”It was awesome to have that many people out there cheering us

on,” Shoni Schimmel said. ”So it was great to have them behind

us.”

Walz said most of Louisville’s coaches were at a game he

considers one of the loudest since the Cardinals moved into this

new arena three seasons ago. But having Pitino at the game in such

a busy week meant so much.

”It’s not like he just came for three, four minutes,” Walz

said. ”He stayed for the entire game, and afterward came into our

locker room and talked to the kids. It speaks volumes for our

entire athletic department because everybody saw Rick there.”

The Cardinals led 38-23 at halftime, and Purdue never got closer

than 10 in the second half as Louisville led by as much as 19. The

Boilermakers got to 73-63 and missed a chance to cut the lead to

single digits when Houser missed a 3 with 43 seconds remaining.

Louisville both outshot and outrebounded Purdue, and the

Cardinals turned their 38-32 edge on the boards into 24

second-chance points. They also got 33 points off Purdue’s 22

turnovers.

Technically, Purdue was the home team as the higher seed wearing

the home white uniforms. The Boilermakers even had some fans in the

stands, not that it helped as they missed their first nine shots to

open the game.

The Cardinals took full advantage of getting to play their first

two NCAA tournament games on their own court for the first time in

the program’s history.

They had the lower bowl of the KFC Yum! Center nearly filled

with Pitino sitting a couple rows away from the court and Cardinals

center Gorgui Dieng in the end zone. Pitino, whose men play Friday

in Indianapolis in the regional semifinals, even yelled at the

officials after Louisville turned it over for the sixth time within

the first 5 minutes.

The Boilermakers started so sluggishly that nothing was going

down, not even when Houser rolled a layup over the rim after a

steal by Courtney Moses in the opening minutes.

”When you’re not knocking down your shots right away, you

always try and find a way,” Houser said. ”We were just trying to

do it too quickly and forcing things that just weren’t there.”

They finally got their first bucket when Taylor Manuel scored on

a layup with 15:34 left, and her second straight layup tied it up

at 4 with 15:09 to go. Sherrone Vails hit a free throw with 14:48

left and put them ahead to stay.

Another Manuel layup pulled Purdue within 18-16 with 6 minutes

left, and that’s when Louisville took control. Reid passed the ball

out to Schimmel while on her stomach in the paint. Schimmel hit the

3 and then banked in another. Slaughter took her turn with a

fast-break layup and her own 3. Hammond’s two free throws put

Louisville up 33-19 with 2:27 left.

Louisville led 38-23 as the Cardinals finished the half on a

20-7 run that had the fans on their feet celebrating.

”We played with them for 34 minutes,” Versyp said. ”The 6

minutes at the end of the first half was where they took

over.”

Ostarello hit consecutive buckets, the last pulling Purdue

within 44-34 with 16:01 remaining. Hammond scored on a layup, hit a

short jumper and even hit only her fourth 3-pointer all season with

10:49 left to push the lead back to 55-37.