Louisville romps No. 8 UK Hoops

In UK’s first appearance at the KFC Yum! Center, the women’s basketball team didn’t have much of an appetite.

Intrastate rival Louisville (6-3) upset the Cats (5-1) 78-52 in front of a vociferous 22,152 fans. That’s the nation’s sixth largest crowd for a college basketball game this season, men and women combined.

“Well, disappointing day for us, we said before our style of play is all based on hustle, being tenacious and really working hard and we picked a bad day not to play hard defensively,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “There’s a lot of things you can control and defensive effort is one of them. I’m really disappointed, you don’t see that from our group very much and we just picked a bad day to do that in a game that meant a whole lot.”

The games stat-line wouldn’t indicate a blow out but there were some major discrepancies. The Cards hit 12 threes and shot nearly 50 percent from the field, while the Cats only made 19 field goals in the game, including a season-low three three-pointers.

Despite senior forward Victoria Dunlap recording 17 points and 23 rebounds (a career best and four shy of the school record), her play will be overshadowed by two Cardinal guards, freshman Shoni Schimmel and junior Becky Burke (each had six threes).

The Cards shot 75 percent from deep in the second half but the most important three came with 7:57 left in the second half.

UK was down 12 at that time but had the ball and a chance to cut the lead to single digits. The Cats lost possession of the ball and Louisville sophomore Shelby Harper found herself on the floor with possession, she heaved the ball nearly the length of the court to Burke, who, despite being the only Card on that side of midcourt, she drained a contested three, pushing Louisville’s lead to 15. UK would get no closer.

“It’s a matter of how we want to handle their runs, we’re going to go on some runs, they’re going to go on some runs, but we can’t panicked,” Louisville head coach Jeff Walz said.

Every time UK would go on a run, Louisville would match it with a bigger run, never allowing UK to get within single digits in the second half.

The Cats offense was discombobulated from the start. The Cats turned the ball over 22 times resulting in 25 Louisville points. UK only totaled four assist in the game, compared to Louisville’s 19.

However, the Cats say what hampered them the most wasn’t on the stat-line.

“We are a team that plays defense, a team that is suppose to play defense, suppose to hustle, suppose to do the little things,” Dunlap said. “There might have been a couple of minutes where we did it but we didn’t do it the entire game and for us to not do that, that’s our bread and butter, so we lost.”

A lack of intensity is something that Mitchell noticed earlier in the week.

“I sensed it Friday and Saturday, I was very concerned about our preparation,” Mitchell said. “We are not good enough to be able to just show up and beat anyone.”

Most coaches might say rivalry games are just another game on the schedule, but Mitchell won’t hide the fact Sunday’s game was one of great importance and one the Cats let slip away.

“This was a very important game for me, it’s not any game we take lightly or another game on the schedule,” Mitchell said. “Coaches put their heart and soul into this game.”