LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Shoni Schimmel did her best to will Louisville into its second straight Final Four.
Louisville's senior leader shook off a frustrating second half to make three shots in the final 30 seconds to give the Cardinals a chance to force overtime in a game they seemed out of with 2 minutes left.
With her team trailing by 3, there was no doubt who would take the game-tying attempt with 3.5 seconds left, and Schimmel had a wide-open look from the right side. Her attempt was on line but bounced off the back of the rim as time expired, leaving the Cardinals with a 76-73 loss Tuesday night in the Louisville Regional final.
"We executed it perfectly," Schimmel said, choking up after scoring 31 points in her final collegiate game.
"Asia (Taylor) was going to get the ball and she got it. All she had to do was throw it to me, and I was actually kind of open. ... The ball just didn't go in. The one that didn't go in was the last shot that I wanted it, but it just didn't fall. Nothing you can do about that."
Schimmel's miss capped a 12-of-35 (34 percent) second half for Louisville, which shot 27 of 69 overall. Antonita Slaughter had 16 points and Taylor 12 for the Cardinals, who were cheered on by 14,002 enthusiastic fans as they hosted their first regional final.
"For our fans to come out like they did tonight was just absolutely amazing," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said.
Louisville (33-5) and Schimmel fed off that energy to rally from a 12-point deficit with 2:03 left.
The guard snapped an 0-for-7 stretch with a quick layup, Taylor followed with two free throws and a layup and Slaughter added two more from the line. Schimmel then let two fly from behind the arc 12 seconds apart to bring the Cardinals within 73-68.
"I had that mentality like I wasn't going to quit and I knew my teammates weren't going to quit," Schimmel said, "so we just did a great job of fighting back."
Jude Schimmel's steal led to two more free throws by Tia Gibbs before Maryland's Shatori Walker-Kimbrough made two from the line. Schimmel then delivered another 3-pointer, this one from NBA range, to bring the Cardinals within two.