The Louisville women’s basketball team is set to open Big East conference play at DePaul tonight at 6 pm EST. The Cardinals are currently ranked #11 and have a 12-2 record with their only losses coming from #6 Kentucky and #20 Colorado.
Louisville has used pressure defense and a balanced scoring attack to dominate most of their early opponents. Their average margin of victory is 29.6 points for the season and an astounding 69 points over the last two games. They are +10.1 in rebounding and averaging 13.6 steals per game.
Although the Cards are off to an impressive 12-2 start, the injury curse has once again struck the Cards with Shawnta' Dyer being lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in practice. Dyer was averaging 7 points and 6 rebounds per game before her injury and providing an inside presence for the team. Tia Gibbs, who has not seen action this season, is working hard to get back on the floor but her return status is unknown. Another player who has not seen action this season, Asia Taylor, was just cleared to practice this week with the team.
Sara Hammond put in the work over the summer and has emerged as a leader. She leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 12.3 points and 7.6 boards per game. Shoni Schimmel is second in scoring at 11.4 and leads the team with 56 assists and 32 steals.
Monique Reid, who has seen limited action this season as she recovers from a knee injury, is playing about 15 minutes per game and averaging 9.5 points. Against Tennessee State, Reid posted a season high 20 points in 18 minutes. When asked about her game heading into conference play, Reid stated, "It feels pretty good so that's why I feel like I had a good game tonight. I haven't felt this good in a while."
Freshman Megan Deines has seen significant minutes in a starting role and is averaging 8.6 points per game. Bria Smith was recently moved into a reserve role, one that Coach Jeff Walz seems to think fits her game. "Bria has been playing outstanding coming off the bench. It gives her the chance to see the first four or five minutes of the game."
As Louisville moves into conference play, the Big East is led by perennial powers #1 Connecticut and #5 Notre Dame. Louisville will travel to Connecticut on January 15th and Notre Dame on February 11th. Big East opener opponent, DePaul, who beat Louisville last season 86-61 in Chicago, is 11-3 this season and led by Anna Martin who is averaging 16.2 points per game. "We cannot give up a lot of transition points,” said Walz. “Last year at DePaul, they annihilated us in transition baskets. They ran past us all day long and shot lay ups. If we are going to win at DePaul we have to turn the ball game into a half court game."
The game tonight against DePaul will be shown locally on WHAS-TV and broadcast live on ESPN3. Radio coverage is on WKRD 790 am.