LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Jude Schimmel's steal and layup with 24 seconds remaining gave No. 9 Louisville a 47-45 victory over No. 15 Texas A&M Friday night.
With the game tied at 45, A&M tried to inbound the ball at midcourt and Schimmel swooped in to grab it and put Louisville ahead.
Kelsey Bone had a chance to tie it but missed a layup with 11 seconds remaining. Sara Hammond got the rebound for the Cardinals, drawing a foul.
The sophomore missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Aggies got the ball, but Alexia Standish missed a shot in the lane in the final seconds and the Cardinals tied up the loose ball to seal the victory.
Hammond had 20 points and 13 rebounds for Louisville, while senior center Monique Reid added 10 points in her first game since sustaining a season-ending knee injury last December.
Shoni Schimmel added eight points for the Cardinals, who shot 39.6 percent and improved to 21-17 in season openers. Louisville also won its second in three games against Texas A&M.
Bone's 14 points led the Aggies, who shot 31.6 percent and committed 24 turnovers.
After a ragged first half in which Texas A&M trailed 31-21, the Aggies came out sharper in the second and slowly cut into the lead. After scoring seven straight points to close within 37-30 with 10:49 remaining, they followed with a 12-4 run capped by Bone's two free throws for a 42-41 lead, their first since leading 5-4 after 3 1/2 minutes.
But for those first 20 minutes it looked as if Schimmel and Hammond would comprise Louisville's offense.
They combined for Louisville's first 17 points with Hammond scoring nine on a combination of drives and follows. Schimmel contributed short to medium range shots that helped counter Texas A&M man's pressure.
The Aggies stayed close for about 10 minutes running few plays through 6-foot-4 Bone.
The momentum changed when Reid entered the game with 8:46 remaining in the first half.
That brought a big cheer from the crowd along with some energy to the Cardinals. And any questions about rustiness or mobility were answered 31 seconds later when she quickly drove to the basket to give Louisville a 19-13 lead and another scoring option.
After a Hammond follow, Reid by scored the next two baskets before a Hammond drive provided a 27-13 lead to cap a 13-0 run that forced the Aggies to call timeout.
Texas A&M struggled against Louisville's man-to-man defense, committing 17 turnovers. Bone finished the half with 10 points but the Aggies shot just 9 of 21 (42.9 percent).
Louisville was slightly better (43.8 percent) thanks to Hammond, Schimmel and Reid, who combined to shoot 13 for 22. The other Cardinals were 1 for 10.
Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair
(Opening statement) "You can see [Kelsey Bone and Alexia Standish] left it all out there on the court. Those two were not on our team on the national championship. Bone sat out the year as a transfer and Standish was a freshman last year. I hope you can see the type of class kids that we have that know how to speak to the media. We try to put them in this type of situation, just like [Louisville coach Jeff Walz] does too. This is a story of women's basketball that's not told enough. We're always talking about the W's and the L's and sometimes we need to talk about the individuals that Jeff has with [Sara] Hammond, Shoni [Schimmel] and with [Monique] Reid coming back, and then what we have right there.
We had a chance to win the game, but four turnovers in I think our last five possessions - that's what hurts and when we're playing with freshmen and sophomore guards we're going to see more of that, particularly with the type of schedule that we're playing.
Even on the end, we said if we're down by four, drive through the lane. If we're down by two, create. Standish went right up the gut, didn't have much of a chance of scoring right there. We tried to call Bone's play more. Against the zone, you got to have some of those shots. [Peyton] Little helped us get back into the game and she even made a couple big shots, but then she was missing shots and she was having trouble guarding Bria Smith, who drove right by her. I put Tori [Scott] in there, she came down and missed a couple wide open shots, but, this was a game that I put on the board. If we're going to win it, it has to be fast and ugly because we're not ready to execute under great defenses now. Jeff's defense is a whole lot better than what it was when we played them last year because he's got different personnel - and they're doing a good job on the zone, they're in the passing lanes, and our guards were not ball faking and that comes with it.
Hammond was just a load in there. She's got a nice game. She does a great job. I thought my freshman, Courtney Walker, did one heck of a job on guarding Shoni. I think she's our best conditioned athlete that we have and she needed every ounce of it, but we made them score different ways than what they wanted to, and you got to give Hammond credit. She was the difference and their other post players did a good job as well.
But just think about it, the game was won on a freshman bounce pass on a sideline play. I probably shouldn't even have the freshman passing and [Jude Schimmel] scored the wide open layup. Really, I think the game would've went into overtime because I don't think either one of us would've scored. Okay, nobody won the ball, it was ugly, but that long of a way somebody was going to score because remember on the break, when [Louisville] pressed us, we threw ahead to Bone, she threw to Karla [Gilbert] wide open and Karla's [reaction] was 'Oh my God. What do I do?' She travels while we have Peyton wide open for a basket. That would've put us up four, I think, or three or something. An easy basket, we didn't have any easy baskets."
(How much are you depending on Kelsey Bone and what are depending on her for) "First, Kelsey has to depend on herself. She is learning what it takes. When she came out of high school, she was the number two ranked recruit in the country next to Britney Griner. I think she is now learning the expectations are there. She has to bring it every night and play a little bit smarter. She played well when she had to, and she made some tough shots. We are too young to get the ball to her consistently, and she has to remember when we shoot 6 of 37 that she has to call for the pass more as a post player. She has to go get some of those offensive boards and they were doing a pretty good job of boxing her out."
(On Kelsey Bone and Karla Gilbert playing together for about 15 minutes in the second half, and do you look to use that combo more this season) "I would love to do it, but you all saw Karla (Gilbert) struggle in transition defense. But Louisville wasn't scoring on transition defense except for one easy play where Karla and Courtney Walker went for the missed shot and had possession, but then lost it to a Louisville player who was wide open to score a layup. That was a garbage play, and you have to have some of those easy baskets. I want to play Karla more, but I like Kristi Bellock too. Our offense runs a lot better when we have a four player who is a little bit more versatile like Sara Hammond for Louisville. You have to have the speed and have to be able to set the screens. Those kids are going to play a lot. We don't have to worry about them because I have three of them, and I have a 6-7 player on the bench that is not ready. But every morning she gets up, she is still 6-7. So I will wait for her because she is just a freshman."
(On your young players and Louisville missing some key players to injury, how do you see these two teams in March) "I hope so. This is what is all about. I like playing Jeff (Walz) and I like playing his team. I respect them and his program he has built. It is good to see the Louisvilles, the Marylands, and the Texas A&Ms up at the top, instead of the normal big four or five. I mean we got some good players. You all draw a bigger crowd than some of those I named. You all should be proud of what you have here. You have a great fan base and great promotion, hopefully we can keep this series going. I enjoy coming here, and I think he enjoyed coming to our place."
(What can your players get from a close game like this and this type of atmosphere) "First game and first play one of our freshmen crossed the line, then throws it back court. You just have growing pains when you have young kids. That is all it is. It doesn't matter what sport you are in, you will have growing pains. I probably needed to be a little bit more positive while the game was going on, but sometimes I had to crack the whip, particularly in the second half to get that fire back into them which forced some turnovers. Both teams are a whole bunch better than we showed tonight. But if I am a fan, I am coming back. I am coming back to see this atmosphere that you have here and to see this competition of the elite programs."
(Comment on what impressed you with Sara Hammond tonight) "Nothing athletically, but everything between the ears. She knows how to play the game. That is all you have to do. People always talk about how high you jump or do this or do that, it is if you know the game. She knows the game and was getting position on us all night and using her left handed fade away. I think the only bad shot she took was the last three point bomb at the end, but she had to shoot it. We were denying the ball back to anyone else. I think Sara is just a complete player and that's what you expect. I think she is just a very smart player, and a type of player you cannot win without her. The game is not all about athleticism. The women's game is played slightly below the rim but important between the ears. Jeff (Walz) has some pretty good kids. Give credit to that little Jude Schimmel. Not just the steal and the lay up, she played solid when she was in there too."
Louisville Head Coach Jeff Walz
(On how big of a win it is to beat Texas A&M) "I think two points. I mean, it's a very big win. They're all big wins. To start off the season playing a Top 15 team, I thank Gary (Blair) because we agreed last year that we'd go down there to be their first home game when they dropped their banner. And then he agreed to come back up here and play the first game. There aren't many that are willing to come on the road and play a Top 20 team or a Top 10 team their first game. You look at the schedules, you look at the teams that are in the Top 15 - How many of them are playing other Top 10 teams? So, I thank Gary (Blair) for that. It's great because I know he's an ambassador for this game and he wants our women's game to continue to grow. Just look what he's done. He's going into the Hall of Fame. I consider him a friend, but most importantly I think he's been great for this game."
(On Sara Hammond's performance) "Sara worked this summer. She put the time in the gym. I think she's let down her guard some. She has given us a chance to coach her more. It was just exciting to see her blossom. She took care of the ball today. I think she may have turned it over two times. Where last year if I had played her - what did she play 36 minutes - she would have turned it over 10 times. But she's matured in handling the basketball. I thought she took very good shots. She may have forced only one or two. But, I thought she played great for our team. She did everything we needed her to do."
(On Sara Hammond's physical play against a bigger Texas A&M team) "She withstood it (the physical play). It was a battle. They are a heck of a team. They're post play is as good as we are going to play against all year. Kelsey Bone, I told her after the game, 'She's as good of a post player I've played against. That's including Tina Charles. That's including everybody in the Big East that I have faced. She is as good as everybody says she is."
(On Bria Smith's performance) "I think the jitters got to her. That's okay. The thing that's exciting for me, Megan Deines does not score a point I don't think, Bria Smith might score two or three, and we were still able to come out with the win. Those kids are not going to go scoreless in many games and score two or three points. So, for us I think that's great. And Shoni (Schimmel) scores eight. We have a program here. We're not just one player and I think that showed tonight. We might not have Hoop Girls Top-10 player every year but we have players that want to be at Louisville. We have players that we feel are program players that want to help this program take the next step. And, that's what we are doing right now. Shawnta' Dyer played well. She was a little nervous at the beginning with the size difference. She was concerned about getting her shot blocked. I thought Sheronne Vails played well for us in the first half. Right now their size and bulk kind of caused Sheronne some problems but she's going to have to play for us this year and she will. Monique Reid came in and offensively she did a great job. I just had to get her out of the game in the second half because she wasn't rebounding for us. She gave up some crucial offensive rebounds. But, that's a kid that hasn't practiced a ton with coming back from her knee surgery. I'm really pleased with all of them. It's a game I thought we had in control and then we got a little sloppy with the basketball. When I go back and watch the film it's going to be good to show our kids (that) there were times when we had it at twelve, and we had the fast break and we kick it out of bounds. We would turn it over. You get in positions like that and you have got to be able to put people away. We just never did that."
(On what he said to the team in the timeout after a 7-0 run late by Texas A&M) "I'm sure it wasn't very nice. I just told them we have to relax and we have to take care of the basketball. We have to rebound the ball. There was one stretch where I think they only made four first shots. But, they were just killing us on the offensive glass. It's demoralizing when you're up 10, I think, and you give them three shots at the basket. And then they score and it goes to eight. Then we turn the ball over and all of a sudden it's at six. If we do what we are supposed to do and rebounded, I thought we had them on their heels a bit. I thought they got tired. I thought we were doing a great job of pushing the ball, but the problem is you can't run very well in transition when you're giving up offensive rebounds and they are scoring. That's really where I thought we struggled some."
(On any surprises in the game) "From what I've seen in practice, no. I was really pleased with Jude (Schimmel). I thought Jude played well. That steal at the end of the game is nothing that surprised me. She does it in practice. She's very deceptive. She looks frail, she looks tiny out there, and then boom she steps in the passing lane on an inbounds play and comes up with the biggest play of the game. I was just really excited for Sara (Hammond). Sara Hammond has put the work in. Bria Smith and Megan Deines have put the work in too this summer. It's going to come around for them there's no question in my mind. We have got to continue to work with Shoni (Schimmel). She does a great job with the ball. She demands so much attention from other teams, but I have got to find a way to get her some easier shots without always having to do something off the dribble. That's something I'll go to work on here in the next few days. Trying to find ways to get her some easier looks."
(On how they were able to win despite the low shooting percentages and being out rebounded) "We found a way, during that stretch where we made a run, to convert in transition. That's what we had to do. In the first half we did a really good job of keeping them off the glass. If we rebound the ball in the second half like we did in the first half it's probably a 15-point game. They did an unbelievable job. Gary (Blair) made a nice adjustment where they kept two posts on the block so when they shot it, all of a sudden, we have to box out two of them down low. For a while they were bringing the one post up high to screen. Then they started to bring the three player to screen and left the big ones down low and we just were having a fit trying to box them both out."
(On how he would rate the game as an experience for his team) "I'd put it at a 9 out of 10. A&M comes in here and they have a lot of young guards too. I thought our pressure starting off caused them to turn the ball over. They do have some returning players that are very talented and their post game is unbelievable. So, for us to be able to get up by fourteen and then weather the storm - I think they took a three or four point lead - and instead of folding, we followed (up). We run a nice out-of-bounds play and Sara (Hammond) scores on it that I think cut it to two. But, that's where we just have to get better. We come down the floor and I think Shoni (Schimmel) turned the ball over. That's where going to continue to grow as a team. As an experience, you can't put a price tag on being able to play in a game like this because we are going to play a lot of these games in the Big East."