The 4th seeded Oregon State Beavers Women’s Basketball team takes on the 1st seeded seeded Louisville Cardinals in the Sweet 16 of the the NCAA Tournament in Albany, New York. Tip-off is slated for 6:00 PM PST on Friday, March 29th. Watch on ESPN or check out the team’s Twitter page for ways to follow along live. Let’s take a closer look at the Cardinals.
Louisville (#5 AP, 31-3 overall, 14-2 Atlantic Coast Conference)
Last season: 36-3 overall, 15-1 in ACC (1st), lost in Final Four of NCAA Tournament
Well, well, well. Look who the Beavers meet, AGAIN. If you have forgotten (bless you if you have), Louisville was the team to knock out Oregon State last year in the Elite Eight, 76-43. I remember being hopeful at halftime with the Beavers down just seven, but a third quarter where the Beavers were outscored by 16 dashed those hopes, ultimately ending their magical run in the 2018 NCAA tournament.
Louisville is back at it again this year with a 31 win season thus far. They have racked up an impressive list of regular season wins, they include: Boise State, Arizona State, Kentucky, Central Michigan, Connecticut, Clemson, Syracuse, and North Carolina State (twice), all NCAA Tournament teams. They have lost to just two teams, Notre Dame (twice by a combined 34 points), and Miami. Interestingly, for teams on opposite ends of the country, the Beavs and Cards have four common opponents they have faced this season in Boise State (a 19 point win), Arizona State (two point win), Duke (22 point win), and Notre Dame (two losses).
The Cardinals are led by Head Coach Jeff Walz. In his 12th season, Walz has Lousville in it’s ninth Sweet 16 under his tutelage. Last year he made his third Final Four trip with the team. Though he has taken Louisville to the national title game twice, he has yet to win a championship. Will this be the year the Cards break through? Or will rumors that Walz is a top candidate for Tennessee distract the team and let a hungry Oregon State team seeking revenge trip them up?
Who to watch
#25 - Asia Durr, Senior Guard
A 2018 All-American (and likely again this year), Durr, is the leader of this Louisville team at 21.3 points per game. The two-time ACC Player of the Year had one of the year’s best game performances of the year when she dropped 47 points, including 11 three-pointers, on North Carolina State back on February 28th. Last year against the Beavers, she paved the way with 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
#1 - Dana Evans, Sophomore Guard
Evans earned ACC’s Sixth Player of the Year honors this year. The 5’6’’ guard, led the team in assists this year at 4.2 per contest while averaging a team second best 10.6 points per game in her off the bench role.
#3 - Sam Fuehring, Senior Forward
The 6’3’’ forward leads the Cards with seven double-doubles on the year. She also the team’s leading rebounder at 7.1 boards per game. She opened the NCAA Tournament with an efficient 9-for-9 shooting performance with 19 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks, and an assist against Robert Morris. In the Elite Eight a year ago, she had an all-around performance with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three blocks.
#11 - Arica Carter, Senior Guard
I only listed her because she kicked at Mikayla Pivec in last year’s game, though she’s the one that fell on her!
While I’d love to see Oregon State get revenge, I think Louisville will prove to be too much for them to handle. After seeing the Beavers struggle against the Broncos and Bulldogs in the first two rounds, an extremely athletic team like the Cardinals has the potential to run away with this one. What’s may be an x-factor is the addition of Destiny Slocum to take better care of the ball, find open teammates, and improve on the team’s 10 assists (and 17 turnovers) from the game a year ago. Louisville takes a close game and moves on to the Elite Eight and sends the Beavers home.