Daily double: Cards women also in title game

NEW ORLEANS – As unreal as it seems, it's happening. The University of Louisville women's basketball team continues to shock the college basketball world. The Cardinals took out a fourth straight higher-ranked foe on Sunday night, advancing into the NCAA Tournament championship game.

The Cardinals (28-8) reached the title game with a 64-57 come-from-behind win against No. 2 seed California. U of L becomes the highest seed – at a No. 5 – to ever reach the women's championship game.

U of L also becomes the first school since Connecticut in 2004 to have both a men's and women's team in the title game in the same season.

"Unreal," U of L coach Jeff Walz said. "We just continue to figure out a way and it's all the kids. We just try to put them in the spots, but I haven't made a shot yet. It's these kids and they just keep fighting.

"It's remarkable. I am just so proud of these young ladies."

The Cardinals have been nicknamed the "party crashers" and they certainly have crashed the biggest party of them all.

After beating Middle Tennessee and Purdue at home in the first two rounds, U of L took out No. 1 Baylor – in what some call the biggest upset in the history of women's college basketball – and then tagged eight-time national champion Tennessee to reach the Final Four.

On Sunday, U of L did it coming from behind. After railing just a few seconds in the first four games, the Cardinals rallied from 10 points down to take out California. It's the second title game in school history after U of L lost to Connecticut in 2009.

"We like to make them interesting," Walz said. "Only trailing for seven seconds in the first four, we decided to throw some spice into it. No, Cal deserves all the credit for how we were playing in the first half. They got after us."

It's been a crazy week for U of L athletics. The men rallied from 12 down on Saturday night and will play Michigan on Monday for the national title.

U of L athletic director Tom Jurich and several staff members attended both tournaments and the Cardinals were represented by a few hundred fans.

"It's a very, very special weekend to say the least," U of L athletic director Tom Jurich said. "I am so proud of both of our coaches and it means to much to the university and to the community. I don't know what to say, I really don't. I'm speechless."

Junior Antonita Slaughter was the star on this night for U of L. She hit 6 of 10 three-point field goals and led U of L with 18 points.

Bria Smith tacked on 17 points, six rebounds and three steals, while Shoni Schimmel added 10 points and six assists.

"We're not ready for it to end," Schimmel said.

But one way or another the season will end on Tuesday as the Cardinals play for a national title. U of L will be the heavy underdog – again –but Walz doesn't mind.

"We love it," he said. "Everybody has to pick against us. But that's OK with us. We're going to come in and play. On Tuesday night, we're going to tip the ball up one final time this season. And why not? Why not?"

Walz meant why not as far as his team winning a title. The Cardinals are playing loose and having fun, taking the lead from their coach.

"We're just thrilled to be here," he said. "You just have to roll with it. Look the biggest problem in college athletics in my opinion is everybody lives in the moment. I mean, we lose to UK in December, you think the world's going to come to an end.

"It's just awful and I'm like, it's one game. That's the way that I approach them all, it's one game. Now, once you get into the NCAA Tournament it's not one game because when you lose, you're done. But back in December, it is what it is.

"They had an unbelievable year, UK did. I think they would be willing to say, hey, we'll trade. You can win that game and we'll come here and play for a national championship on Tuesday."

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