When the ball went through the basket, Mariya Moore was backpedaling. She was following the dictate to get back on defense and observing her own note to self to save the celebrating for the appropriate moment.
But about the time the Louisville forward reached the mid-court line Monday night, her emotions overcame her instructions. She made a show of shoving her fists toward her hips, like a gunslinger emphatically returning a pair of pistols to his holster.
“I don’t even know what happened,” she said later. “I’ll have to look at the replays. But it just came out.”
Louisville’s 75-64 victory over Tennessee was still a one-point game when Moore let fly, but it would never again be as close as a single shot. Fighting leg cramps following a first-half fall, Moore scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to lead the Cardinals to a comeback victory and secure a spot in the NCAA Women’s Sweet 16.
Asia Durr would score more points Monday night. Myisha Hines-Allen would grab more rebounds. But maybe the most significant development for Jeff Walz & Co. was Moore’s sudden sharpshooting from the perimeter. Mired in a sustained slump entering the NCAA Tournament, Moore made 2-for-3 beyond the 3-point arc Saturday against Chattanooga. She went 5-for-5 against the Lady Vols.
Her celebration Monday night was part joy, part relief.
“The last five games (before the tournament) she was 1-for-21 from the 3-point line,” Walz said….
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