LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Sure, some will suggest that No. 4 Louisville's 75-64 win over No. 5 Tennessee on Monday doesn't matter much in the scheme of the NCAA tournament. All the work, after all, was to earn the chance to potentially play No. 1 Baylor next in Oklahoma City.
Except that we've seen that formula before. And as long as you advance, you have a chance.
Louisville proved that in 2013. Against Baylor. In Oklahoma City.
Down by a point entering the fourth quarter against Tennessee, in danger of exiting on its own court in the second round for the second year in a row, Louisville took control of the final 10 minutes. Mariya Moore scored 19 points, Asia Durr added 23, and the Cardinals held the Lady Vols to just 11 field goals in the final three quarters.
There is more to come from Louisville. Here are some thoughts at the final buzzer.
Player of the game: Moore all the way, even if she ceded the scoring lead to Durr in the end. After a first-round win over Chattanooga, Louisville coach Jeff Walz talked about the rough stretch Moore went through on the offensive end late in the season. She had 10 assists in a strong first-round performance, but she took just three shots. That perhaps suggested a player who is still more comfortable letting others do the scoring. Walz said that wasn't so, and it turns out he was right. With Louisville's main point producers struggling, Moore's points on 7-of-10 shooting won the day.
Turning point: That something needed to change for Louisville entering the fourth quarter was obvious when Walz put freshman Sydney Zambrotta on the court for the first time all game to begin the final 10 minutes. But what changed was that Moore took over the game. She hit a nice shot on a baseline drive in the opening minute to put the Cardinals back in front. Barely 30 seconds later, she hit a step-back 3-pointer and bounced up court on defense, a rare show of emotion for a player with a good poker face. She inbounded the ball under the basket a minute or so later, slid out to the corner and hit another 3-pointer. By the time Tennessee called timeout, Moore's 8-0 run had given Louisville its biggest lead of the game at 54-47.
X-factor: Durr made three of her first four shots in the game, then sunk into a 2-for-15 slump that threatened to pull the entire game down with her. That might rattle some players, but it didn't rattle Durr. After Moore's binge early in the fourth quarter, Durr scored back-to-back field goals to extend the lead almost to double digits. And these weren't just layups. The first was a driving, one-handed runner on the right side, the second a long jump shot she created with a behind-the-back dribble and slide step. By the time she hit a reverse layup to make it 62-51 with four minutes to play, her slump was over -- and so was Tennessee's season.
Stat of the game: Tennessee's eight missed free throws. Most of them came in the first half, so there was ample time to make things right. But it's difficult to overstate the damage of wasting those opportunities, especially when the Lady Vols were scrambling for points with Diamond DeShields on the bench in foul trouble for almost the entire second quarter.
What's next: Louisville advances to the Sweet 16 in Oklahoma City and will face the winner of the second-round game between No. 1 Baylor and No. 9 California. This is Louisville's ninth trip to the Sweet 16, all made since Jeff Walz was hired in 2007.
Should Baylor be the opponent, the matchup will ring a few bells for fans of women's basketball. Oklahoma City was the site when Louisville stunned top-seeded Baylor in the same round in 2013, a game perhaps best defined by the image of Shoni Schimmel flipping the ball over her head -- and over the outstretched arms of Brittney Griner -- in the second half. That was the most recent of two times the teams played.
Louisville and Cal have played three times, all since 2013, with the Cardinals winning twice.