Gonzaga advanced to its first Elite Eight tonight, with a 76-69 win over Louisville. As #11, the Zags are the lowest seed in tournament history to reach the quarterfinals.
Courtney Vandersloot had another outstanding game, putting up 29 points and dishing seven assists, which brought her to 358 for the season. That broke the old NCAA single-season assist record.
Louisville post Monique Reid was injured stretching for the game, which might be one of the reasons the Cardinals had to play catch-up in the second half. Suddenly they remembered how to play defense, and they effectively went to work on Vandersloot, limiting her scoring. Louisville also switched to man defense – something they should have done much earlier.
Vandersloot is a force to be reckoned with, to be sure. She will go high in the WNBA draft in a few weeks. But Cardinal freshman point guard Shoni Schimmel also impressed the heck out of me. That behind the back dribble for the layup in the second half gave me heart palpitations. She also talks to her teammates like she’s a junior or a senior – like Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm talks to her team: like a true point guard. I am now officially a Schimmel fan.
Louisville had the game at the end. But their sudden lapse in defense, beginning at the 2:13 second half mark, cost them the contest. Why, if behind by only five, would they suddenly stop pressing Gonzaga and let Vandersloot walk the ball up the court, eating precious seconds off the clock? I was disgusted.
I’ve always thought that all the outcries about teams having home court advantage was just an excuse on behalf of the losing team, but now I’ve changed my mind. There’s no way in hell any team should be allowed to host the NCAA tournament. Especially a lower seed.