Women’s basketball hangs tough, falls against No. 9 Louisville
For the second consecutive season, the Central Michigan women’s basketball team battled Louisville for four quarters – this time on the road.
The Chippewas (0-2) lost to the Cardinals (3-0), 76-63, Thursday at the KFC Yum! Center. The Chippewas fought closely with the Cardinals through four quarters before the No. 9 Cardinals pulled away and secured the victory.
”For the most part I thought we battled with a really, really good team,” First-year head coach Heather Oesterle said. “Louisville, I give them a lot of credit, they capitalized on some things. I thought for the most part we were this close with the No.9 team in the country.”
Junior guard Micaela Kelly led the Chippewas with 23 points in addition to seven rebounds while playing all 40 minutes of the game. Her aggressiveness, especially in the fourth quarter, helped CMU keep the game close.
Kelly shot 15 free throws and made 11 of them.
Freshman guard Molly Davis got off to a hot start, scoring five points in the first quarter. Davis finished with nine points and four rebounds. In only her second career game and against a tough opponent, she turned the ball over seven times before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
“This team applies an incredible amount of pressure, our guards were prepared for it, but if you look at our two backcourt [players] between Micaela Kelly and Molly Davis, six turnovers and seven turnovers between our two backcourt players,” Oesterle said. “We knew they were gonna pressure us and Molly is a freshman coming into an environment like this.”
The Chippewas and Cardinals went back and forth early on before ending the first half separated by only three points.
”If Molly Davis doesn’t foul out, if a couple things bounce our way I think we had a good shot to stay with them until the end,” Oesterle said.
CMU never held a lead during the second half but managed to keep the Louisville lead under 10 for much of the second half.
Rebounding was an area for concern heading into the game for CMU, but the Chippewas kept the battle on the boards close, finishing the game with 34 rebounds to Louisville’s 41 rebounds.
Junior guard Maddy Watters finished the game with seven points, shooting 1-for-2 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. She committed four fouls.
Junior forward Kyra Bussell followed up her career-high 29 points with 11 points and seven rebounds Thursday.
Oesterle felt like her team could maintain pace with the Cardinals, and she was proven right by her squad.
Oesterle also played 10 players tonight compared to eight against Green Bay, showing improved faith in her bench early on this season.
”I played almost our entire bench in the first half,” Oesterle said. “I was trying to see who was going to give us contributions in a game like this.”
Sophomore center Jahari Smith added 10 points and five rebounds for the Chippewas.
The Chippewas next play Sunday against Western Kentucky (2-1). The Hilltoppers lost to Louisville in their opening game, 75-56, and provide another tough game for CMU during the nonconference stretch of the season.