LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Shoni Schimmel scored 19 points, Tia Gibbs added five 3-pointers and third-seeded Louisville rolled seventh-seeded LSU 73-47 on Sunday to reach the regional final of the NCAA tournament.
Facing an injury-riddled Lady Tigers squad that dressed just eight players, the Cardinals (33-4) rung up another rout highlighted by a season-best 12 3-pointers with the two seniors leading the way. Schimmel was 3 of 5 from beyond the arc and three other Cardinals contributed.
LSU (21-13) on the other hand went 31 minutes with just Danielle Ballard (24 points), Jasmine Rhodes (eight) and Theresa Plaisance (seven) scoring before other players chipped in. By then the game was out of hand and the Lady Tigers shot just 24 percent from the field.
Louisville moved on to host Maryland on Tuesday night, matching Cardinals coach Jeff Walz against Terrapins counterpart Brenda Frese, whom he worked under from 2002-07.
Antonita Slaughter added 10 points and Asia Taylor had 10 rebounds for Louisville, which shot 40 percent and was outrebounded 48-46 but cruised because its reserves outscored LSU’s bench 28-0 while dominating the Lady Tigers 21-2 in assists.
DaShawn Harden also had seven points for the Lady Tigers.
Unlike last spring when Louisville’s stunning upset of defending national champion Baylor thrust the surprising Cardinals into the regional final as a No. 5 seed, they entered the game expecting to reach at least the regional final following two lopsided tournament wins by an average of 38 points.
Louisville also hoped that hosting at KFC Yum! Center — where it lost just once during the regular season — would help. Its home-win total included the November rout of LSU in the preseason WNIT.
Despite winning handily, the Cardinals expected to face a different LSU squad this time around. At the very least, they were facing a resilient Lady Tigers squad that has lost Raigyne Moncrief (knee) and Jeanne Kenney (concussion) respectively against Georgia Tech and West Virginia yet gone on to win both tournament games.
Both games symbolized how the Lady Tigers’ eight healthy players have opened things up offensively, particularly Ballard. Her 23-point tournament average has not only led a balanced attack featuring at least four double-digit scorers in both games, but helped LSU rank fifth in postseason at 87 points per contest, just ahead of Louisville (85.5).
Ballard quickly picked up where she left off, following Rhodes’ game-opening layup with five straight baskets for the Lady Tigers for a 12-9 lead with 12:31. Ballard added a bank shot, but by then Louisville was off to a 15-2 run over the next 4:04 as Gibbs hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Jude Schimmel hit another long-range jumper on a kickout pass from Taylor.
It wasn’t close again as the Cardinals outscored the Lady Tigers 17-9 for a 41-23 halftime lead that also demonstrated Louisville’s depth advantage. While Shoni Schimmel’s 14 points led seven Louisville scorers at the break, Ballard (14), Plaisance (five) and Rhodes (four) comprised LSU’s offense.
The crowd of 11,097 included Louisville men’s basketball player Russ Smith, who entered the KFC Yum! Center in the second half to a cheering crowd two days after the Cardinals were eliminated from the tournament by rival Kentucky.
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