Shoni Schimmel Leads the Cardinals in Comeback Against WSU to 11-2 Record

Shoni Schimmel Leads the Cardinals in Comeback Against WSU to 11-2 Record

Jack McNeel

The University of Louisville women’s basketball team made a pre-Christmas trip to the west coast playing Washington State University on December 19. It was an opportunity for the many fans of Shoni and Jude Schimmel to see the two girls in action rather than via a television set.  And the fans turned out in big numbers. The crowd numbered over 2,000, huge attendance for most college women’s basketball and particularly so during college vacation. A rough guess placed the Native American attendance at 80% or higher.

Shoni and Jude are from the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon, about a three hour drive from Pullman and W.S.U., and many friends and relatives made the drive to see the game. But with other fans and relatives from the Nez Perce reservation about an hour away, and other fans from the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane reservations, also within a couple of hours, many showed up to watch the sisters play.

This was also Native American Appreciation Day with various activities on campus during the day. During halftime an honor song was sung at mid-court.

There was no doubt which team had the stronger support. Even though it was a home game for W.S.U. the bleachers were filled with people wearing red sweatshirts saying “Louisville”. When Shoni was introduced a loud cheer rose from the audience. One local W.S.U. supporter commented the crowd was about four times larger than normal. Most were Native American and nearly all were Louisville supporters.

The game itself was very close and not decided until the final seconds. Louisville, ranked #14 for the A.P. poll, started strong but faded late in the first half and trailed at halftime 25 to 36. Shoni’s shots just weren’t dropping in the first half.

Louisville came out strong in the second half, the shots started going down and Louisville pulled even with 11 minutes remaining. The lead changed hands several times over the next five minutes before Louisville took the lead for good with about six minutes left.

The game stayed close but Shoni began taking over in the final three minutes scoring six free throws, dropping another bucket, and making a steal in that stretch to seal the Louisville win at 75 to 71. Shawnta’ Dwyer led the team in scoring with 16 points.

Shoni’s numbers reflect that off-night shooting, going 0 for 8 from the three-point line but overall she was 4-15 in field goals, 6 for 6 in free throws for 14 points, plus 8 assists and 4 steals in 38 minutes. Jude was 2-2 in field goals in 19 minutes of play.

After the game Louisville head coach Jeff Walz talked about the play of Jude and Shoni.

“I’m real excited with the way they both played in the second half. Jude’s really starting to progress. She just needs to understand to play within herself. When you come from a high school team where she had to be everything her senior year to where now she has to watch her shots and be sure she’s taking good shots. She is, but what she did today was she led very well. She really kept things under control for us, handled the ball, got out twice on run outs and got two big layups. I was really pleased and excited for her. If she continues to do that it’s going to help our team and her playing time is going to increase.”

“Then with Shoni, you know she struggled from the field. I thought in the second half she didn’t let that frustrate her. She said she did, getting frustrated and not making shots, and then she realized you’re not going to make them all. Then she came out and passed the ball so well in the second half and came up with some big shots once she needed to. I’m truly excited for her. Hopefully we’ll continue to grow as a team and after this win we’ll all go home tomorrow for the holidays and meet back up on the 26th.”

Ceci, the mother and former coach of both Jude and Shoni, was asked how the two girls were doing with all the attention. “It’s a lot bigger stage for them,” she commented. “There are a lot more struggles and a lot more benefits, like getting well known and playing harder competition. But it also comes with a price; being away from family. They’re kind of at a point where they’re kind of missing family.”

“Jude is doing awesome. I think this has been her struggle with playing time. She’s always been a good kid. She can handle anything is my motto. She’s also doing really good in school so that’s been great.”

“I think they’ve both gotten bigger, better, stronger physically because they work out constantly. I think it’s been really good for them, a learning process.”

Louisville's next game is at home tonight against the University of Tennessee at Martin.

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