Louisville rallies in second half to reach title game

By
Updated: April 7, 2013

Louisville fans have plenty to celebrate
this weekend, as both the men’s and women’s basketball teams will advance to
the national championship.

Down 10 points at halftime, Louisville rallied in the second half to defeat
California, 64-57, in the Final Four on Sunday.

Antonita Slaughter had a game-high 18 points and Bria Smith tallied 17 points
for the Cardinals (29-8), who advance to their second national championship
game in five seasons. Louisville is also the first university since
Connecticut in 2004 to have both its men’s and women’s basketball teams reach
their respective title games in the same year.

Louisville will play Connecticut in the title game on Tuesday.

The road has not been easy for the Cardinals, who were the No. 5 seed in the
Oklahoma City region. After routs against Middle Tennessee and Purdue in the
first two rounds, Louisville pulled the upset against Brittney Griner and top-
seeded Baylor, 82-81. They then beat Tennessee in the regional final, 86-78,
to make it to the Final Four.

“From our end, we got one more game,” said Cardinals coach Jeff Walz. “I told
the kids they’re stuck with me in practice for one more day. So it’s just–
it’s a remarkable group of young ladies. I’m proud of every single one of
them.”

Layshia Clarendon scored 17 points for the Golden Bears (32-4), who won the
Spokane region as the second seed. Gennifer Brandon had 12 points and nine
rebounds.

“I’m just so grateful that we got to play into the second to last possible day
you could be playing a game,” said Golden Bears coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “And
we had a pregame meal today and we got to do walk-through and all of the stuff
just being together, and I’m really sad that we’re not doing that on Tuesday
night, but that I wouldn’t trade this team for anything, even though we’re
disappointed about a half, and I think our seniors set that tone, and I think
the whole team did that this year.”

California led for most of the contest, but with 3:40 remaining in regulation,
Sara Hammond sank two free throws to give Louisville the lead, 53-52.

Clarendon made a jumper twenty seconds later, only for Smith to respond with a
layup. A jumper by Shoni Schimmel gave the Cardinals a three-point lead,
before Clarendon’s trey tied the game, 57-57, with 1:54 left.

With 1:28 to play, Hammond converted a three-point play to give the Cardinals
a 60-57 edge, and they would hold on to win the game. California missed its
final six shots, including five from beyond the arc, while Louisville made
four free throws in the final 18 seconds.

Down 10-6 early in the first half, the Golden Bears went on a 10-0 run to
take a 16-10 lead with 13:29 to play. California would hold on to it until
Hammond’s free throws late in the game.

California was offensively efficient in the half, shooting 58.6 percent from
the floor, and the Golden Bears had a 37-27 advantage at halftime.

However, the Golden Bears shot just 30 percent in the second half, and had
trouble drawing fouls — missing their only free throw attempt — allowing
Louisville to come back.