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Louisville women upset No. 1 Baylor, ending college career of Brittney Griner

Mar 31, 2013, 9:53 PM EDT

Jeff Walz AP

To say the least Sunday was a great day to be a Louisville Cardinal.

Just hours after the men’t team emphatically punched its ticket to the Final Four the women’s team pulled off a major upset, knocking off reigning national champion Baylor 82-81 in Oklahoma City.

Two free throws from fifth-year senior Monique Reid with 2.6 seconds remaining proved to be the difference, and the end result is Louisville’s first Elite Eight appearance since 2009 and the end of Brittney Griner’s collegiate career.

Griner is one of the most dominant players in the history of the sport but Jeff Walz’s Cardinals were able to frustrate the Baylor star, playing her physically throughout and limiting her to 14 points (4-of-10 FG) and ten rebounds.

And in the eyes of Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey, the game was allowed to be played too physically.

“I thought the game started out way too physical, way too physical,” said Mulkey. “I thought that all three of [the referees], if they go past this round of officiating, it will be sad for the game.”

The Cardinals led by as many as 19 points in the second half thanks to scalding-hot shooting from beyond the arc. At one point Louisville hit 15 of 20 shots from three, and they finished the night 16-of-25.

But the top-ranked Bears, who entered the game having won 32 straight, mounted a furious rally that received a boost in the form of Louisville point guard Shoni Schimmel (22 points) fouling out with just over four minutes remaining.

Two free throws from Odyssey Sims (28 points) with 9.1 seconds remaining gave Baylor its first lead of the game, but the Bears lost track of Reid on the ensuing inbounds play and the senior whose career was derailed by a serious knee injury was fouled at the basket by Griner.

Next up for Louisville is Midwest Region 2-seed Tennessee, which beat Oklahoma in the first half of the doubleheader. But there’s also the question of which team becomes the favorite as a result of Baylor’s defeat.

Notre Dame, which takes on Duke in Norfolk on Tuesday, would have to assume that role given the fact that the Fighting Irish has defeated the other remaining one-seed (UConn) three times this season.

However the overwhelming feeling has to be that with the one player no other team in the country could match (Griner) eliminated, anyone is capable of winning it all.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

  1. Sideline Mob - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Incredible upset win by Louisville… not saying Baylor played their best game, but in their defense you can’t gameplan for an opponent to go 16-for-25 (64%) from 3-point land.

    Side note: Kevin Ware, we’re all thinking of you. Get well.

  2. vbgnola - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    I didn’t have any skin in the game, but I couldn’t believe how “out of hand” the refs let the game get in the first half. I’m all for aggressive play. Love it. But what they allowed Louisville to do to Griner, especially in the first half, was criminal. I don’t know how she managed to keep her cool. Straughter even “swung” on Griner and the game never even stopped. I’ve watched a lot of ball in my years, and I can tell you I’ve never seen anything like it. Even with all of that, Baylor still had a chance to win in the end, but for some reason their coach decided to change up her defense and pull Griner off the in-bounder (which had worked quite well in the second-half press) and put her on the far end of the court. There is no way that Griner is fast enough to cover the long pass that was definite to come. The coach has to own up to poor adjustments in the first half and a mistake in defense at the end. I really felt bad for Odyssey Sims who willed the team to a comeback in the second half.

    • big12fan - Apr 1, 2013 at 1:08 AM

      I agree, the officiating was totally out of hand. Yes, Louisville was lights out in their 3 point game, but that being said, the sustainability and toughness of Baylor was evident as they pulled back to finally lead the game. The point is, the greatness of Baylor, even on a night when they did not play their best, was evident, in spite of Louisville’s 3 point shooting and in spite of the officiating, but that greatness would likely have showed up much earlier had the game been called correctly and the overabundance of physical play and taunting against Baylor and Brittney Griner in particular been called in the first half and on into the second. Obviously, when the call began to be made in the second half, Baylor came back, only to be thwarted by one final injustice by the referees. Not only was Brittney mauled underneath with no foul calls on Louisville, but the lack of technicals for taunting was unforgiveable. Yes, there was taunting on both sides when Baylor (Odyssey Sims) and Louisville (Shoni Shimmel) received technical, but I honestly don’t blame Odyssey Sims for just standing there. Shimmel got away with taunting all night, once in Brittney’s face and at least twice with her thumb on her forehead and hand waving. None were called. She should have fouled out of that game much earlier than she did. And I would be ashamed if I were the Louisville coach to have to win by engaging in a “street fight” as I believe he put it. As far as poor adjustments, there are always a few calls coaches wish they had back, but the point is, with a correctly called game, that would not have been an issue. Baylor may not have won on the scoreboard, but they can hold their heads high for the comeback they made and the integrity with which they played the game.

  3. florida727 - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    Only losers make excuses. Sorry, Mulkey, but if you were any kind of coach, you’d have made adjustments DURING the game instead of bitching about the refereeing AFTER the game. Was the refereeing poor? Absolutely. It sucked. Especially allowing all the trash-talking. Louisville was classless in that regard, and Baylor wasn’t much better. But for you to deflect blame when you could have done something about it shows even less class. You lost. Man up, skirt, and admit that Baylor played their game and since the referees let them, they pushed the envelope to the very edge… AND WON!

  4. mooser80 - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    Big12fan aka Mr Griner,
    I only saw the second half and I agree that the game was very physical but Louisville did have 3 or 4 kids foul out. I also saw Coach Wallz get a technical yet a minute later when Coach Mulkey totally lost it and was tearing off her jacket and gesticulating madly, no technical. The only way a team like Louisville beats a team with Griner is rough her up on one end and shoot lights out over top of her at the other. I say congrats to Louisville. Well done.

    • big12fan - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:53 AM

      No, Big 12 fan is NOT MR. GRINER. Since you only saw the second half and missed the first, you did not see the majority of the missed calls in the game. Should Coach Mulkey have received a technical? Yes, but that is not the point of my post. I agree the second half was called much better with the exception of a few calls. The point is, had the first half been called as it should, emotions on the part of the players and the coaches would not have escalated as they did on either side. Did Louisville shoot lights out 3’s. Yes, but those there are two sides for every team to play and for the absolute success they had on offense, that did not license them to play street ball on the defensive end and not get called for the numerous fouls they committed under the basket. Nobody would argue if the three points on offense had won the game opposite a properly called defensive plays. This is women’s basketball, not street ball. Coach Mulkey said what needed to be said in this tournament. This was not the first game with questionable calls and the others did not involve Baylor.

  5. frankiebooboo - Apr 1, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    Good to see women dominating the sport of basketball.
    As the saying goes… FIGHT LIKE A GIRL!!!

  6. mogogo1 - Apr 1, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Incredible upset of a team I thought would win by 20+ all the way through the tournament. Well done, Louisville. As for it being too physical, the refs were trying to keep it under control. Louisville had 3 girls foul out and a 4th ended the game with 4 fouls. Nobody on Baylor had more than 3 fouls.

    The biggest factor was that Baylor just didn’t feed their superstar. Griner had only 10 shots for the game and was just 6 of 8 from the foul line. They could have fouled out the entire Louisville team had they just kept feeding her and having her shoot, forcing the refs to blow the whistle. This was a team that dominated all season but forgot how to win a tight game at the worst possible time.

  7. artisan3m - Apr 1, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Louisville committed two players to Griner ~ wherever she went. Get her out of the paint and take two opponents with her. Baylor’s Hayden, Williams, Sims, and Pope could drive the lane and Griner would be in a better position to hawk rebounds. With her and two defenders (sometimes three) jamming up the inside game, its an open invitation to a charging foul and Baylor got a few. The officiating crew was never in control of the game but when that happens, you have to meet muscle with muscle. Indeed, Mulkey, it was a mugging ~ but when you are down by 18 something other than officiating suggests you need to change your strategy because what the opponent is doing is working. You can’t expect them to leave a winning stragety or wait for a cold shooting streak. Louisville outplayed Baylor and they earned the victory. While their methods may be in question, at the end of the day they move on and Baylor goes home to inventory equipment

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