Women’s basketball defeats Louisville 68-57

The double-digit win was women’s basketball’s first ever win over the Cardinals


Evan Harris

Jewel Spear (in white) handles the ball against Louisville.

Ian Steffensen, Sports Editor

Wake Forest women’s basketball returned home to face the Louisville Cardinals on Thursday night. Coming off three straight road losses, the Demon Deacons looked to turn the tide and regain momentum to finish out the season. And they did just that, with junior guard Jewel Spear scoring a season-high 34 points to earn the program’s first ever win over Louisville, 68-57.
“We worked so hard to get here, and it paid off,” head coach Megan Gebbia said. “We went out and took it. We have more of this to do, and this is just the beginning for this group.”
Spear got the Demon Deacons on the board first, creating space for herself along the left sideline and nailing the triple. Louisville capitalized on Wake Forest’s defensive struggles and numerous turnovers, with the Cardinals going on to score 11 unanswered points after that. The Demon Deacon offense was undeterred, with Spear driving to the basket and finding wide-open teammate senior Alexandria Scruggs in the corner for the three to halt Louisville’s run. The Cardinals continued to keep the Demon Deacons at bay, nailing shots from the perimeter and playing airtight defense on the other end. Wake Forest would not go away though, as Spear routinely cut to the basket and made contested layups to trail 18-14 after one quarter of play.
Louisville had all the momentum starting the second quarter, going on a 6-0 run. A great pass inside from sophomore guard Elise Williams to senior Olivia Summiel ended the Cardinals’ scoring run. Spear continued to cut backdoor to the basket and nail the contested layups, even converting an and-one on one possession. On the next possession, Spear made space for herself again and hit another triple to continue Wake Forest’s 7-2 scoring run. Yet every time the Demon Deacons drew close, the Cardinals had an answer, going on yet another 6-0 run late in the quarter. Heading into the locker room, Wake Forest trailed 34-25.

Olivia Summiel (in white) shoots a contested lay-up. (Evan Harris)

Throughout the season, the Demon Deacons have had trouble coming back from large deficits, but that all changed on Thursday night. Williams hit two pull-up threes to kick the offense into high gear. A strong defensive effort on the other side of the floor allowed Wake Forest to keep putting the ball in their star’s hands. With a 7-0 run in hand, Spear came off a screen on the left side, hit another three and was fouled to convert on the four-point play. Spear was able to cross up her defenders and find easy lanes to the basket to continue the Demon Deacons’ scoring run. Spear hit a triple from the logo with two minutes remaining in the quarter to extend Wake Forest’s lead to six. Wake Forest’s 18-0 scoring run accounted for their 51-45 lead going into the final frame. During the run, Spear and Williams shot a combined 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. The pair scored 19 of Wake Forest’s 26 points in the third frame.
Both sides traded baskets in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, with the Demon Deacons still holding onto their lead of six. The Cardinals wouldn’t go away easily though, as they continued to capitalize on Wake Forest’s mistakes and attack the paint. Louisville was able to cut its deficit to two with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. A strong offensive rebound and put-back by junior Demeara Hinds stretched Wake Forest’s lead to four. With the Cardinals unable to score on the other end, the Demon Deacons nailed their free throws to secure the 68-57 victory.
It was a great offensive showing for Spear, shooting 8-15 from the field and 4-7 beyond the arc, and Williams who finished in double figures for an eighth straight game. The Demon Deacons’ defense also played a major role in the upset victory forcing 20 turnovers and holding the second-leading scorer in the ACC, Hailey Van Lith, to just eight points.
“Jewel had an outstanding performance with a season high,” Gebbia added. “We made so many winning plays. We slowed down, and we were deliberate with our decisions. This win is because we continued to grow and learned from all of our previous games leading into this one.”
Wake Forest continues its homestand on Sunday at 2 p.m. when the Demon Deacons will be looking to get revenge against the University of Miami.