The University of Louisville women’s basketball team was shorthanded on Sunday but still managed to score one of the biggest wins of the season.
The Cardinals beat Villanova 55-49 – on the road – to pick up a 10th victory in Big East Conference play without Monique Reid (knee) for the entire game and the second half without leading scorer Shoni Schimmel. Jude Schimmel suffered an injury late in the game and didn’t return.
”I am elated,” U of L coach Jeff Walz said. “I am so happy for these kids.”
Sophomore guard Bria Smith had 16 points, including a tie-breaking layup with 4:56 remaining, for the Cardinals. She had seven rebounds, six steals and four assists. Sara Hammond and Antonita Slaughter had 10 points and nine rebounds apiece, while Sheronne Vails added nine points.
”I am really proud of the kids that came out in the second half and decided to play,” Walz said on his postgame show. “It’s a team game and unfortunately for us right now, we have a couple of kids that don’t quite understand that.”
Shoni Schimmel, the team’s leading scorer didn’t play in the second half. She had two points and two assists on 1 of 7 shooting in 13 minutes in the first half.
”I challenged her at halftime, ‘Do you want to play or not’,” Walz said. “She would not answer me and I said, ‘Fine you have given me your answer’.”
Walz said he was uncertain if Schimmel would play on Wednesday when the Cardinals host Seton Hall on Senior Night, noting she might not “unless she is willing to give in and step up to the plate and say this is about the team.”
The win gives the Cardinals a 2-6 record overall and 10-4 in league play. U of L is currently a half-game behind Syracuse for third-place in the league standings and a half-game ahead of St. John’s.
The top four seeds in the conference get a double bye in the tournament.