Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz took the blame Friday after the Cardinals saw their big late lead evaporate on their way to suffering a stunning 61-59 loss to No. 7 seed Miami in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Leading by 15 points with only 5:44 left, Louisville had a 99.9% chance of winning the game, according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI), but Miami edged out the No. 2 ranked Cardinals by 17-0 in the final five minutes. To complete her angry career. The Destiny Harden Hurricanes sealed the win with a turning jump at the bell.
“I’m going to take the blame for that,” Walz said after Louisville’s semi-final loss for the first time since joining the ACC in 2015. You probably think you’re going to play a tournament, three matches hopefully in three days, and we’ve lost all our rhythm offensively. Then we took some real bad hits, didn’t defend, and didn’t guard. Whatever we needed to do to let them get back in the game, we did.
“I won’t blame these kids. It’s my fault…As a coach I learned a valuable lesson there today.”
Louisville (25-4) was one of the top four in the third and final NCAA women’s basketball rankings, revealed Monday, along with Stanford, South Carolina and North Carolina State. But it could drop by one streak if Baylor goes deep in the Big 12 this week in Kansas City, according to ESPN’s arch expert Charlie Cream.
The game was also the 10th time this season that a team lost after entering the fourth quarter by at least 14 points, and Louisville is the only team that has been on the losing end of many of these games, according to ESPN statistics and information. The Cardinals previously lost to NC State 68-59 in mid-January when they allowed Wolfpack to erase their 16-point lead and outsmart them 31-8 for fourth.
“Unfortunately for our group we haven’t quite figured out yet and because I don’t care about the score, the first possession of the match is just as important as the last possession of the match,” Walz said. “It’s a hard lesson to learn, but one that I hope we can learn from and make some quick adjustments because you have a good week and a half now to sit on this. And if this doesn’t sit in your guts and piss you off, I don’t know what to do for them.”
Goalkeeper Keanna Smith shared her coach’s frustration with letting another big lead slip away.
“That was horrible,” she said. “There is no doubt about it. This is the second time this has happened to us this year, and we have to learn from it and make changes.”
The Cardinals went 0-for-5 from the field and made five turns in the last five minutes of the game. Louisville had two key players, Hailey Van Leyth and Olivia Cochran, as Miami made their comeback with less than five years to play. Four of Wales’ five starting players returned after Miami cut the difference to eight by 3:25 to play, although Van Leith stayed on for most of the final three minutes.
“It sucked,” Walz said. “I had some bad makeup outside, and that kind of threw everything right.” “We did not communicate.”
Harden scored 15 out of 27 in the Hurricanes series of 17 missed points to push the Hurricanes, one of Karim’s “last four bye” teams, to victory.
“Safe to say we’re out of the bubble?” Miami coach Katie Meyer said. “I really still know,” I was looking for a book to find out what happened. Did Destiny fight 14-0 by herself? Is that correct? 15th? Gorgeous.”
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