Score: No. 4 Louisville 62, No. 5 St. John’s 55
Stars: Louisville: Sara Hammond 22 Pts, 11 Reb, 2 Blk. St. John’s: Shenneika Smith 19 Pts, 2 Stl.
Story: Sophomore forward Sara Hammond scored a career-high 22 points as No. 4 Louisville earned a spot in Monday’s Semifinals with a 62-55 win over No. 5 St. John’s.
Louisville shot 2-19 from three-point range, but 12 steals and 35 rebounds helped give the Cardinals the edge they needed, as St. John’s was only ever to get within one point in the second half.
At the start of the game, it was a tale of two teams. Hammond had 10 points in the first four minutes of the game, and Louisville jumped out to an early lead.
“I knew I had an advantage because they started four guards and there was a guard guarding me,” Hammond said. “I haven’t been playing well the last couple of games and I wanted to come out and show everybody that our post players are really good for our team.”
The Cardinals led by 14 with 13:31 to play in the first, and that is when the Red Storm made their move, led by senior Shenneika Smith. The senior scored 14 points in the first half, and hit two free throws with under two minutes left to put the Red Storm ahead for the first time since the first minute of the game.
Louisville missed 20 of its last 21 shots in the first half, with its last field goal coming with 8:11 to play in the half. The Red Storm only shot 26.1 percent in the first half, making a mere six field goals, but Nadirah McKenith’s off-balance buzzer beater put St. John’s ahead 24-21 at halftime.
But the Cardinals came out shooting in the second half. They found their rhythm offensively and were able to take the lead.
Once again, however, the Red Storm fought back. Led by Smith, the Red Storm got back into the game, but were unable to take the lead at any point during the half.
By the final media timeout, Louisville had a six-point lead and showed no signs of letting the Red Storm get back in the game.
Despite some torrid shooting during the game, Louisville closed the game out with tenacious defense and advanced to the Semifinals, where they will meet Notre Dame on Monday night.