NEW ORLEANS— The Schimmel sisters couldn't summon one more magical performance for Louisville.
Against mighty Connecticut, Shoni and Jude Schimmel's "rez ball" repertoire of flashy passes and shots produced about as many misses and turnovers as points and the Cardinals' stirring run of upsets came to an end. UConn's 93-60 win Tuesday night was the biggest blowout ever in a women's NCAA title game.
With their eighth national title — tying Tennessee for most all time — the Huskies prevented Louisville from joining UConn (2004) as the only schools to win national titles in both men's and women's basketball in the same season.
"I don't think anybody can argue that unfortunately we just came up one game short, but I'm proud of my players," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said.
Louisville men's coach Rick Pitino made the trip to watch the game, one day after his team won the NCAA championship against Michigan, and back home there was a buzz in the Bluegrass State as fans wondered if there would be two titles to celebrate instead of just one. After all, the women had knocked off Baylor in the tournament's biggest upset in history, then added Tennessee to their list of victims before becoming the first No. 5 seed to reach the Final Four by beating Cal.
Instead, UConn took control with a 19-0 first-half run and never looked back, stifling the Cardinals at every turn. Sara Hammond was the only Louisville player to reach double figures with 15 points. Shoni Schimmel finished with 9.
Even if the sisters had pulled off another rendition of "rez ball," the free-wheeling style of play often seen on Native American reservations across the country, it might not have been enough to prevent Connecticut from completing another chapter of postseason dominance.
Antonita Slaughter struggled to hit 3-pointers as she had, hitting only one after making six in the NCAA semifinal against California. Bria Smith's dribble drives were met with a stout wall of defenders. She hit the floor hard several times, and wound up with seven points, one game after scoring 17.
Walz had said leading up to the game that his team would have to play its best game of the season, even better than it did when knocking off defending champion Baylor and its 6-foot-8 star Brittney Griner. That meant the Cardinals would likely need another big game from the Schimmel sisters, who had helped carry Louisville on its surprising run to the title game.
They both had a rough start.
Shoni Schimmel missed her first six shots and Jude Schimmel was on the bench, briefly in tears, after committing her third foul with 9:21 still to go in the first half. Shoni Schimmel, Louisville's leading scorer averaging better than 14 points, finished 3 of 15 shooting for nine points. Jude Schimmel scored seven.
Shoni Schimmel said their Big East Conference foe knew Louisville's players well and made an effort from the start to limit her touches and not give her any easy shots.
"They knew what they needed to do to stop us," Shoni Schimmel said.
Defensively, Louisville seemed powerless to stop Breanna Stewart, who scored 23, and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who had 18, including five 3s. Kelly Faris made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points.
"They just made big shot after big shot," Walz said.