Shoni Schimmel’s heroics throughout her four-years playing for the Louisville Cardinals have been well documented. Facing the end to her shining career, the Umatilla citizen was off by about two inches from extending her career at least another 5 minutes.
After scoring 14 points in the first half, she faced a stingy defense filled with double-teams forcing the guard into bad shots and passes leading to turnovers in the second half. She missed seven straight shots during a stretch where Maryland took advantage with a 20-4 run.
Third seed Louisville’s Final Four hopes were slowly slipping away but not before an electric final 3 minutes. Down 62-53 following Maryland All American Alyssa Thomas’ two point tip in at 3:04, Jude Schimmel, Shoni’s younger sister, made 1-2 free throws, before Maryland’s Lexie Brown (20 points, 6 rebounds, 4, assists, 4 turnovers) hit two free throws to drive the lead to 10 with 2:39 remaining. Maryland’s Laurin Mincy (8 points, 4 steals, 3 turnovers) hit two more free throws with 2:03 on the clock following a Jude turnover to push the lead to a dozen.
Fourth seeded Maryland looked well in control as visitors in the KFC Yum! Center.
Then Shoni found her rhythm.
Shoni got a steal, and following two Louisville offensive rebounds (Monny Niamke and Bria Smith), she hit a 3-pointer to close the lead to 70-65 with :31 to play.
Maryland pushed the lead back to eight at the foul line on two separate occasions.
Shoni again hit a 3-pointer with :20 left to play, followed up by a Jude steal, and two Tia Gibbs free throws to close the lead to 73-70 with :14 from a Final Four spot.
Gibbs would foul out on the next play, sending Maryland’s Shatori Walker-Kimbrough to the line for two shots, extending the lead back to five.
The sparkplug senior from Louisville was not ready to quit though, as she hit another three from about 24-feet out with :07 left to close the lead to 75-73.
Louisville’s Antonita Slaughter fouled Thomas (22 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers) sending her to the line, where she missed her first of two free throws. The second hit the back of the rim, then bounced through the nylon pushing the lead to 3 with 3.5 seconds left.
A timeout by Maryland almost worked in favor of Louisville, who was without timeouts to call.
Louisville inbounded the ball to half court, found Shoni on the right side of the arc in time to get a shot off, for it to hit the left side of the rim and fall out as the buzzer sounded.
And like that an electrifying career followed throughout Indian country came to a close. Shoni finished with 31 points on 12-of-29 shooting, 5 rebounds, 5 steals, and an uncharacteristic 7 turnovers. Four of those turnovers came in the first 16 minutes of the game according to ESPN. In the previous three games of the tournament Shoni had 18 assists and 3 turnovers. She finished her career with 2,174 points for second in school history, behind Angel McCoughtry; while finishing as school leader in 3-pointers, and second in assists according to Steve Jones and the Courier-Journal.
Jude, a junior, finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 turnovers.
Shoni was one of four seniors who saw their careers come to an end: Gibbs, Asia Taylor, and Slaughter.