Louisville knows not to take the Mocs lightly

Louisville knows not to take the Mocs lightly

March 15th, 2017 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

Notre Dame's Jackie Young, left, pushes the ball up court ahead of Louisville's Myisha Hines-Allen, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament at the HTC Center in Conway, S.C., Saturday, March 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

Photo by Mic Smith Photography LLC

One thing is for sure about the Louisville women's basketball team: The Cardinals aren't looking past their first-round opponent in the NCAA tournament.

The Cardinals, seeded fourth in the Oklahoma City regional, drew the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for a 1:30 p.m. game Saturday at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville. The teams met there on Nov. 21 and the Cardinals (27-7) won 63-47 but struggled after building a 25-12 lead, shooting 36 percent from the field in the final three quarters.

The Mocs stayed in the game largely due to defense. They were outscored by only two points after the awful first quarter.

The winner of Saturday's rematch will play Monday against fifth-seeded Tennessee or 12th-seeded Dayton, who meet in Saturday's second game in Louisville.

"We know it's going to be a tough game," Louisville coach Jeff Walz told CardinalAuthority.com on Monday. "They have improved since then, and it will be a challenge. Our girls are excited to be at home, but we know it won't be easy for us."

While the Mocs are looking for the program's second NCAA tournament victory, the Cardinals are on a much more known national scale. Since Walz arrived in Louisville, the Cardinals have a 21-8 record in the NCAA tournament and have been to two final fours (2009 and 2013).

The Mocs' focus is solely on Saturday's game, though. They were able to take some positives from the first meeting, which was marred by a third-quarter injury to point guard Chelsey Shumpert that caused her to miss the next two games — losses to Green Bay and Maine. The former also is in the NCAA tournament, as one of eight teams playing in either the NCAA or WNIT on UTC's 2016-17 nonconference schedule.

The Mocs won't be intimidated by the environment — the Cardinals averaged 9,503 fans in 16 home games this season — or the opponent. And the Cardinals know that.

"Just because we beat them before, we can't take Chattanooga lightly," forward Myisha Hines-Allen told the Louisville Courier-Journal. "Since we beat them before, they're going to be coming in here looking to beat us and surprise us."

* Fans are welcome at a Mocs send-off, complete with the UTC band, between 10:30 and 11 a.m. Thursday at McKenzie Arena (Gate 2).

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.