NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Shoni Schimmel smiled and hugged her teammates, almost as if she was celebrating, when the clock hit zero and Louisville had fallen hard to Connecticut in the women's NCAA championship game.
Perhaps she was practicing for next spring, when Louisville is bound to be back in position to make another tournament run — albeit a less surprising one.
"We did make this run at the end of the tournament and it's just going to continue into next season," Schimmel said. "We're just going to get better and grow as a team and learn from this."
UConn's 93-60 win Tuesday night was the biggest blowout in a women's NCAA title game, yet the Cardinals said they would not let it overshadow their memorable string of upsets that got them as far as they went.
"The run that we went on I think is remarkable and it's something I'll always remember," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "I told our players, 'When we walk out of this place, we're walking out with our heads high.'"
Louisville's run captivated fans in no small part because of moments of creative brilliance by sisters Shoni and Jude Schimmel that evoked "rez ball," the free-wheeling style of play they developed growing up on a Native American reservation in Oregon.
Against UConn, however, their repertoire of flashy passes and shots produced about as many misses and turnovers as points. The familiarity of playing a team from the same conference probably hurt more than it helped, Shoni Schimmel said.
"Playing in the Big East, you kind of know each other," she said. "They knew what to do to stop us, and that was kind of limit my touches and not really let me shoot."