LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Texas A&M coach Gary Blair blames himself for the Aggies loss.
Louisville's Jude Schimmel steal and layup off freshman Courtney Walker's inbounds pass at midcourt with 24 seconds left provided the ninth-ranked Cardinals' winning basket in a 47-45 victory over No. 15 Texas A&M.
"The game was won on a freshman bounce pass on a sideline play. I probably shouldn't have even had the freshman passing," Blair said.
Blair called Walker his best-conditioned athlete and praised her defensive performance on Louisville star guard Shoni Schimmel. The freshman's miscue was one of 24 by the Aggies —the majority coming from their young backcourt.
"We had a chance to win the game but with four turnovers in, I think, our last five possessions, that's what hurts," Blair said. "And when I'm playing with freshman and sophomore guards, we're going to see more of that. Particularly with the type of schedule that we're playing."
Not only did Blair note his team's mistakes from the perimeter, he pointed out the Aggies' shooting woes from the outside.
Despite hitting 11 of 19 shots in the post, Texas A&M's wing players and point guards were just 6 of 37.
"Game, set, match," Blair said. "Against the zone, you've got to have some of those shots."
Texas A&M still had two chances to tie after that and failed both times.
Aggies center Kelsey Bone missed a layup with 11 seconds remaining and the Cardinals' Sara Hammond got the rebound in the scramble and the foul.
"I had to make that shot," said the 6-foot-4 Bone, who led the Aggies with 14 points. "I just didn't. And that's something that I'll learn from. I missed the shot and there's nothing else to say about it."
Texas A&M had another opportunity to tie the game after Hammond missed the front end of a one-and-one with 9 seconds remaining. But Alexia Standish's jumper in the lane in the final seconds bounced away and Louisville tied up the ball to preserve a tense victory.
Hammond, who averaged just 3.3 points as a freshman, finished with a career-high 20 points for Louisville. Her 13 rebounds also matched a career high.
"It was exciting to see her blossom," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said.
After a ragged first half in which Texas A&M trailed 31-21, the Aggies came out sharper in the second and slowly cut into the lead. After scoring seven straight points to close within 37-30 with 10:49 remaining, they followed with a 12-4 run capped by Bone's two free throws for a 42-41 lead, their first since leading 5-4 after 3 1/2 minutes.
"It was a game that I thought we had in control and then we got a little sloppy with the basketball," Walz said. "You get in position like that, you've got to be able to put people away and we just never did that."
For those first 20 minutes it looked as if Shoni Schimmel and Hammond would comprise Louisville's offense.
They combined for Louisville's first 17 points with Hammond scoring nine on a combination of drives and follows. Shoni Schimmel contributed short to medium range shots that helped counter Texas A&M man's pressure.
"She was just a load in there," Blair said. "She has a nice game."
The Aggies stayed close for about 10 minutes despite running few plays through Bone.
Texas A&M struggled against Louisville's switching defenses, committing 17 turnovers in the first half. Bone finished the half with 10 points but the Aggies shot just 9 of 21 (42.9 percent) in the first 20 minutes.