By Teresa M. Walker
The Associated Press
LOUISVILLE, Ky. —
Sara Hammond had 21 points and 10 rebounds to help fifth-seeded Louisville beat Purdue 76-63 Tuesday night and advance to its second NCAA tournament regional semifinal in three years.
The Cardinals (26-8) will play either top-seeded Baylor or Florida State on Sunday in Oklahoma City in the program’s fourth regional semifinal in the last six years.
The fourth-seeded Boilermakers (25-9) snapped a five-game winning streak and now have lost in the second round three straight years.
Antonita Slaughter scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half for Louisville. Shoni Schimmel had 14.
Sam Ostarello led Purdue with 14 points and 12 rebounds. KK Houser had 10.
Louisville never trailed in beating Purdue for the first time in six games. These teams hadn’t met since 1993, and the Cardinals’ program has grown to a new level in the past two decades with this — a game that had Louisville men’s coach Rick Pitino in the stands.
The Cardinals led 38-23 at halftime, and Purdue never got closer than 10 in the second half as Louisville led by as much as 19. The Boilermakers got to 73-63 and missed a chance to cut the lead to single digits when Houser missed a 3 with 43 seconds remaining.
Louisville both outshot and outrebounded Purdue, and the Cardinals turned their 38-32 edge on the boards into 24 second-chance points. They also got 33 points off Purdue’s 22 turnovers.
Technically, Purdue was the home team as the higher seed wearing the home white uniforms. The Boilermakers even had some fans in the stands, not that it helped as they missed their first nine shots to open the game.
The Cardinals took full advantage of getting to play their first two NCAA tournament games on their own court for the first time in the program’s history.
They had the lower bowl of the KFC Yum! Center nearly filled with Pitino sitting a couple rows away from the court and Cardinals center Gorgui Dieng in the end zone. Pitino, whose men play Friday in Indianapolis in the regional semifinals, even yelled at the officials after Louisville turned it over for the sixth time within the first 5 minutes.
The Boilermakers started so sluggishly that nothing was going down, not even when Houser rolled a layup over the rim after a steal by Courtney Moses in the opening minutes. They finally got their first bucket when Taylor Manuel scored on a layup with 15:34 left, and her second straight layup tied it up at 4 with 15:09 to go. Sherrone Vails hit a free throw with 14:48 left and put Louisville ahead to stay.
Another Manuel layup pulled Purdue within 18-16 with 6 minutes left in the first half, and that’s when Louisville took control. Monique Reid, who had been a game-time decision with swelling in her left knee, passed the ball out to Schimmel while on her stomach in the paint. Schimmel hit the 3 and then banked in another. Slaughter took her turn with a fast-break layup and her own 3. Hammond’s two free throws put Louisville up 33-19 with 2:27 left.
Louisville finished the half on a 20-7 run that had the fans on their feet celebrating.
Ostarello hit consecutive buckets, the last pulling Purdue within 44-34 with 16:01 remaining. Hammond scored on a layup, hit a short jumper and even hit only her fourth 3-pointer all season with 10:49 left to push the lead back to 55-37.