Idaho ends strong season on down note

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - When was asked to sum up her career at Idaho, senior Alyssa Charlston’s first reaction was to cry.

Though Charlston and the Vandals fell well short on Sunday, they’ve got nothing to feel bad about following one of the best seasons in school history.

Sara Hammond led five players in double figures with 16 points and third-seeded Louisville rolled past Idaho 88-42 on in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

Jude Schimmel had 14 points and Asia Taylor scored 13 for the Cardinals (31-4).

Ali Forde had 16 points for 14th-seeded Idaho (25-9), which won 25 games for the first time in 28 years.

Charlston had 11, but WAC Player of the Year Stacey Barr took a blow to the head early in the first half and finished just 1 of 7 from the field.

“I mean, it’s emotional. Any last game is going to be emotional. But, wow, what a ride it’s been. It’s been incredible. I know that the girls behind me are going to take this program even higher than when I came here. They’ve got a powerful coaching staff to do it,” Charlston said.

The Vandals were back in the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row after winning both the regular season and conference tournament titles in the WAC.

Idaho even moved up two seeds from a year ago, when it was blasted by UConn 105-37.

But the Vandals haven’t beaten a team from a high major conference since 2004, and an optimistic start soon gave way to reality.

Louisville missed their first seven shots and was called for a pair of charges in the first four minutes. But Jude Schimmel buried a corner 3 to give Louisville its first lead, and the Cardinals never looked back.

Louisville went a 28-10 run late in the first half and opened the second half with 23 points in eight minutes to push their lead to 63-30.

“This experience is a great experience to have. Next year hopefully will be, like coach was saying earlier in the locker room, hopefully we’ll have a higher seed and be able to come out stronger. Playing a team like Louisville, they’re obviously a great team. It makes us better. It allows us to push farther. We know what we need to work on now,” said Forde, a sophomore.

Many were surprised to see Louisville be seeded as low as third, including Idaho coach Jon Newlee.

The Cardinals won 30 games for just the second time in school history, and three of their four losses were to unbeaten and top-ranked Connecticut.

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