Women's basketball nearly upsets No. 3 Louisville, falls 72-68

Senior forward Reyna Frost makes an two-pointer against Louisville on Dec. 20 at McGuirk Arena.

Presley Hudson threw her fist through the air in celebration.

The senior guard dropped in a fadeaway 3-pointer with two defenders smothering her as just 16.6 seconds remained against No. 3 Louisville at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant.

However, Hudson's clutch triple was not enough, as late free throws from Louisville senior guard Asia Durr secured a 72-68 escape for the Cardinals, who improved to 12-0 on the season. 

"I'm very happy with the way we competed," said CMU coach Sue Guevara. "I couldn't have asked for much more, except maybe a few more shots to go in. With the tenacity we played with for 40 minutes, I'm happy with the effort.

"I'm never happy with losing."

Guevara's group dropped to 8-2 on the season with its only other loss coming at the hands of South Dakota State on Nov. 12.

Down by four with 27.5 seconds remaining, CMU senior forward Reyna Frost put a move on 6-foot-3 senior forward Sam Fuehring and scored to cut her team's deficit to two points.

Frost finished with 22 points, 13 rebounds and two assists, going 9-of-16 from the field.

"First off all, there's the size of the heart and there's no fear," Guevara said of Frost. "That's half the battle. She's put in the work, and that's the bottom line."

To open the game, Fuehring missed a wide open layup, but she made up for it by filling the cup on a 3-pointer from the top of the key to start the scoring.

Setting the pace for the remainder of the contest, Hudson responded immediately with a triple of her own.

Despite the early basket, Hudson was locked to just three points in the first half on 1-of-4 shooting from the field. 

With four seconds left in the first quarter, Durr tossed in a mid-range jumper to end the 10-minute frame with a 21-17 edge. In the second quarter, Fuehring's layup as the buzzer sounded put the Cardinals ahead by four, 32-28.

The Chippewas were carried in the first half by Frost's 11 points and eight rebounds. On the defensive side, Frost kept Louisville to a 38.5 percent shooting rate at halftime. Durr, who came into the game averaging a team-high 21.7 points per game, only had five at the break.

Throughout the second half, sophomore guard Dana Evans and Durr continued defending Hudson with authority. The Cardinals went up by nine on a layup by Durr with 6:03 to play in the third, but CMU stormed back.

Frost scored seven-straight points to cut CMU's deficit to two points with 3:50 remaining in the third.

Junior forward Gabrielle Bird drilled 3-pointer from the left baseline to give CMU its first lead of the game, 47-46, with 2:20 left in the third quarter. The crowd of 2,833 fans at McGuirk Arena erupted.

"They doubled down, and that's why Gabbi was open," Guevara said. "She was able to hit the three. For a Thursday with students gone, the Mount Pleasant area appreciates good basketball. They came out."

Hudson's first points came early in the contest, and her second bucket was a crucial 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter. Kelly followed with a 3-pointer of her own with 8:28 left, cutting Louisville's deficit to one, 56-55.

Even though the Chippewas continued going toe-to-toe with the Cardinals, Durr scored 11 of Louisville's last 12 points to help secure a four-point win. The NCAA All-American had 13 points in the fourth and 31 for the game. 

CMU travels to Coral Gables, Florida, to play in the Miami Holiday Classic against Tulane and No. 24 Miami on Dec. 29-30. The Chippewas return home to open Mid-American Conference play against Akron on Jan. 5.

"We can compete with some of the best teams in the country," Guevara said. "And I think we are a pretty good basketball team. These kind of games prepare us for March. That's what it's all about."