CINCINNATI - Now, everybody's watching Louisville put on a show in the NCAA tournament.
Freshman point guard Shoni Schimmel, from Franklin High in Portland, scored 19 points Sunday, and the Cardinals marked their return to the NCAA tournament with an 81-62 victory over Vanderbilt.
The Cardinals (21-12) failed to make the tournament last season after losing to Connecticut in the 2009 title game, a one-year absence that motivates a team starting Schimmel and two sophomores. The failure to make last year’s tournament was especially galling because Louisville hosted opening-round games at Freedom Hall.
Coach Jeff Walz made his players attend the other teams’ practices and see what they were missing.
It was a lot better to be playing Sunday.
“Definitely,” said Monique Reid, who had a team-high 22 points. “Coming off last year’s season, I’m definitely excited to be playing.”
For the second consecutive year, the Commodores (20-12) ended their season on Xavier’s home court. Last year, Vanderbilt reached the second round before losing to the Musketeers by a point. They never led in this one.
Xavier 72, South Dakota State 56: Ta’Shia Phillips had 27 points and 15 rebounds to help the second-seeded Musketeers (29-2) shake off a slow start and beat the Jackrabbits (19-14).
Xavier will play Louisville on Tuesday, a rematch of a tight game earlier this season on the same court. The Musketeers beat the Cardinals, 71-59, on Nov. 23, when Amber Harris had 28 points and 18 rebounds. Harris had 16 points and 12 rebounds Sunday.