BATON ROUGE -- A stifling defensive performance allowed the third-seeded Louisville Cardinals to cruise past the 14th-seeded Liberty Flames in the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 62-42 victory Sunday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Louisville (30-4) advances to the second round for the third straight year. Liberty finishes its Big South Championship season with 24-9 record.
Louisville it set to square off with host and sixth seed LSU Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. CDT in the second round. The Cardinals and Tigers split their previous two meetings. LSU won the last meeting in 2002 with a 65-46 victory in Baton Rouge. Louisville took the first meeting on its home court in 1994 by an 84-81 mark.
The winner of Tuesday night’s contest will advance to the round of 16 in Raleigh, N.C.
The Flames’ 27 turnovers were too much to overcome as the Cardinals held a double-digit lead for the final 25 minutes.
Louisville controlled the first half by forcing 18 turnovers. The Cardinals capitalized on the Flames mistakes by scoring 19 of its 35 first half points off of turnovers.
The Cardinals bench provided a big boost with 29 points, including 11 from freshman Becky Burke.
Louisville senior Candyce Bingham had an all-around performance with 12 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Junior guard Amber Mays led the Flames with 11 points.
Louisville vs. Liberty
NCAA Tournament First Round
March 22, 2009
LOUISVILLE HEAD COACH JEFF WALZ
“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to get back out on the floor after the Big East championship game. I thought that tonight we played with a lot of passion and a lot of excitement and it showed on the floor. Our goal was to try to force them into 25 or more turnovers and we forced them into 27. Then our goal was to get 25 points off the turnovers and for us to get 29 points off their turnovers really gives credit to how hard our kids played tonight. It was fun to coach them and we’re looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep tonight and then getting back into things tomorrow and showing back up on Tuesday.”
On his team playing with more energy than before...
“It was a long two weeks that we had to take off after that game in the Big East finals. After that, we had three days off practice and then got back into it. I’ve been really pleased with how we practiced and I think that showed in the way we played tonight. It’s not a big secret of what we’re trying to do each time we step out on the floor. We’re going to try to pressure you, we’re going to try to run and we’re going to try to score off turnovers if we can. That’s a big part of what we are and I think we did a good job of that tonight , especially from the 10-minute mark in the first half on. Our goal was to come out in the second half and really continue to be aggressive and I thought in the first five minutes we came out and played some very good basketball.”
On being more balanced in the game tonight...
“I thought tonight we really showed that we do have some depth and that we have other players who can step up and score. I thought Gwen Rucker played some of the best basketball she’s played in a while and she didn’t score a point. But she really did a good job defensively for us. She came up with a couple of big steals there in the first half. Becky Burke has been playing really well for the past few weeks, actually...We’ll come out and compete here Tuesday night, that’s for sure.”
On facing LSU in the second round...
“It’s going to be a battle. Allison Hightower is a very special player. LaSondra Barrett and three or four other post players are really solid, good players. They’ll have a great crowd here playing on their home court. It’s going to be challenge for us, but we’ve played well on the road all year so we can use that in our favor. I’ve got no doubt that we’ll play extremely hard and I was pleased with the fact that we were able to get Candyce (Bingham), Angel (McCoughtry) and Deseree’(Byrd) some rest tonight.”
Louisville Player Quotes
Forward Angel McCoughtry
On being pleased with the start of the tournament...
“I’m just proud of the way we’ve been playing, and I just want us to keep it up. I was very proud of the freshmen tonight. They stepped up, and we played as a team.”
Forward Candyce Bingham
On being pleased with the start of the tournament...
“Of course we are. We finished off the regular season pretty well, and we’re pretty satisfied. Now, it’s the beginning of a new season, so I think we came out and did what we wanted to do, and hopefully, we’ll continue that on Tuesday.”
On forcing so many turnovers...
“That was a part of the game plan. We knew going into the game that they were averaging about 20 turnovers a game, and we knew that they had never seen any kind of pressure like us, so we decided to come out and pressure them, and I think we did a very good job of that.”
Guard Becky Burke
On hitting some big three-point shots in the first half...
“They were in the flow. I think most of the threes I make are in the flow, just off giving into the post and kick outs and transition, so I think they are in the flow of the game, and they were wide open. I just knocked them down.”
Louisville Locker Room Quotes
Guard Deseree’ Byrd
On what she thought was the key to tonight’s victory...
“It took a little while in the first half for us to get in a groove. Once we started forcing turnovers we started to establish a big lead. We out rebounded them in the second half which let us stay ahead.”
On facing LSU Tuesday night in the second round...
“It will be a huge game. LSU is a great team. If we come out with the same level of defense it is going to be quite a battle.”
Center Keshia Hines
On defeating Liberty to advance to the second round...
“We played great defense by following our game plan throughout the game. We established a big lead and held on to come out on top.”
On what she expects to see out of LSU on Tuesday night...
“LSU is a great basketball team that played great defense earlier tonight (vs. Green Bay). Hopefully we are able to execute our game plan as well as we did tonight in order to stay alive.”
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green
Opening Statement ...
“First of all I want to thank God for the opportunity I had to coach such a wonderful group of young ladies and future leaders. I am one of the luckiest coaches in the country. These young ladies have character and values and they will be very successful beyond the game of basketball. I recognize that a lot of times coaches get caught up in the wins and losses and miss the big picture, and I am very thankful that I have been able to be associated with a great group of seniors and a great team.
“This team has been very successful for most of the season. There were a lot of adversity and injuries early in the season, but they have continued to fight back. Since Christmas we have only lost two games, so I am thankful for their effort. Tonight we were beaten by a very good Louisville team, a team that has a tremendous amount of talent, a lot of weapons and very talented players. We are disappointed because we play to win and it didn’t happen. We want to congratulate them and wish them the very best as they advance into the tournament.”
On what Louisville did defensively to shut down his team ...
“Throughout their season I looked at several of their games in scouting, and it is obvious that the half-court trap is their strength. We were preparing for that and acknowledged that as their strength. They have long athletes that move very well, and consequently we were not able to find the right combination. I felt like all in all I probably did not prepare them properly for that, and I knew that was their strength, the half-court trapping defense. It is very difficult to simulate that, and they do a tremendous job because it disrupts your offense. That is a good strategy, and we felt like if we could handle that and make it a half-court game, we could be successful. However, we were unable to do that, and turning the ball over takes away opportunities to score. It provided opportunities for them because I think they may have gotten 19 points off turnovers in the first half. I did not have our girls properly prepared.”
Liberty Player Quotes
G Megan Frazee
On Louisville’s defense ...
“We knew coming in that Louisville was a good team and they had a lot of good athletes on their team and we knew their press and that they liked to dictate the tempo of the game. Our strategy coming in was to try to neutralize that a little bit. I think at the beginning of the game we did a good job of that, but then we got out of it for one reason or another. Like Coach Green said, we got beat by a good team today and wish them the best of luck the rest of the tournament.”
On her not getting many open shots ...
“They did do a good job on defense and it’s one of those things where I would have liked more of my shots to fall, but they don’t always do that. Basketball is definitely a team sport so other people get involved, but they definitely played good defense tonight. I don’t know how many turnovers our team had, but it was quite a few, so I definitely give them props for that.”