Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - A scoring drought in the final eight minutes doomed the Gonzaga University women's basketball team in a battle against the University of Louisville Wednesday. The Cardinals, currently ranked sixth in the nation in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Top 25 polls, defeated Gonzaga 55-42 in the semifinal of the Hardwood Tournament of Hope in Puerto Vallarta.
It was close and intense game until Gonzaga went cold after the 8:12 mark of the second half. Gonzaga (5-1) had fought to get within four points of Louisville (5-0) at 44-40 after a jumper by senior Taelor Karr but wouldn't put the ball through the net until the game was out of reach and sophomore Danielle Walter made a layup as the buzzer blew.
In the unfortunate scoring drought Gonzaga went 0-of-7 from the field and turned the ball over four times.
Prior to the scoring drought the Bulldogs were playing neck and neck with the Cardinals and they did it without their two leading scorers, in junior Haiden Palmer and sophomore Keani Albanez, who struggled to find any offense.
It was the Zags defense that once again stifled its opponent and the post play shined in the absence of scoring from Palmer and Albanez.
The post play in the early minutes of the first half kept the Bulldogs in the game. Of the 21 first half points scored by the Bulldogs, 12 came from the post players.
Junior center Stephanie Golden scored six of the Zags first eight points and redshirt freshman center Shelby Cheslek tallied the next three to put Louisville's lead at just 15-13 with 11:43 to play.
Karr finally got into the action draining a 3-pointer to get Gonzaga within one of the Cardinals at 17-16 but Louisville responded with a 3-pointer of their own, this one by Megan Deines.
The Cardinals closed out the half on a 9-4 run to capture an eight-point halftime advantage at 29-21; their then largest lead of the contest.
Gonzaga forced 14 turnovers in the first 20 minutes and scored 11 points off those miscues.
The Bulldogs rallied minutes into the second half using a 7-0 spurt to slice the Cardinals edge to just one at 29-28. Junior guard Jazmine Redmon started things off for GU nailing a 3-pointer – the Zags second of the contest – followed by back-to-back jumpers by sophomore Sunny Greinacher.
An 8-0 run by Louisville, which included back-to-back 3-pointers by Deines, gave the Cardinals a nine-point advantage but Gonzaga was not deterred. GU strung together a 12-6 spurt to get within that fateful four points of Louisville at 44-40. It was the play of Meghan Winters that ignited to feverish comeback as she came off the bench to drain two 3-pointers.
It was then Shoni Schimmel and Monique Reid that put the seal on the Cardinals victory. Schimmel scored eight points in the final push, while Reid tallied two big layups.
Schimmel, the leading scorer for Louisville who was held to three points in the first half, finished with a game-high 16.
Karr led Gonzaga with nine points and Golden chipped in eight.
Palmer and Albanez, who combined for 35 points against Missouri State Friday, were each held scoreless. As a team, Gonzaga was held to 30.2 percent shooting (16-of-53).
Gonzaga now plays Winthrop University in the consolation game of the tournament Thursday. Game time is set for 4 p.m. PT