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UofL's Slaughter: More history to be made

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Antonita Slaughter became the first woman from Shelby County to play in Final 4. Now she wants more.

By Josh Cook

Shelbyville’s Antonita Slaughter made history Tuesday night – becoming the first woman from the county to play in a NCAA Division I national championship basketball game.

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If she has her way, she will do it again next year but with a different result.

Slaughter, a 6-foot-1 junior guard on the University of Louisville women’s basketball team, was a big reason why the Cardinals made their second appearance in the national title game. And even though Big East rival Connecticut lambasted Louisville, 93-60, in the championship game in New Orleans Arena, that did little to diminish the accomplishments of the Cards or expectations for next season.

“We’re going to work hard and be back in the national championship next year,” Slaughter, who graduated from Christian Academy of Louisville, told the crowd at the KFC Yum! Center late Wednesday afternoon during the celebration for UofL’s men’s and women’s basketball squads.

And although Slaughter & Co. failed in their bid to win the program’s first national title – as well as follow up the men’s championship Monday night in Atlanta – they won plenty of admiration along the way.

“Still proud of my little sister and the #Lady Cards!!! Yall had a great run and showed a lot of heart,” Slaughter’s older brother, A.J., tweeted late in the game.

A.J. Slaughter, a  former basketball standout at Shelby County High School and Western Kentucky University, was watching the title game in France, where he plays professionally and is five hours ahead of Shelbyville.  

He saw his sister score nine points, grab four rebounds and record four steals in UofL’s loss to UConn. Slaughter finished 4-for-8 from the field, including 1 of 4 from 3-point range (finishing two 3s shy of tying the all-time NCAA Tournament record), in 37 minutes of action.

However the mood in the locker room after the defeat was more celebration than devastation for the Cards.

“We still have Bourbon Street,” Slaughter told WDRB-TV. “We made it to the national championship. No one expected us to be here. We’re still celebrating.”

That’s because on the way to the program’s second national title game – the Cards also lost to UConn in the 2009 final – UofL pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tourney, knocking off defending national champion and No. 1-seeded Baylor in the regional semifinals. Slaughter hit seven 3-pointers in that game, and she hit six more in Sunday’s comeback victory over California in the national semifinals.

Slaughter finished the season averaging 10.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game and made second team All-Big East Conference. She also shot 35.8 percent (64 for 179) from 3-point range and 85.9 percent (61 of 71) from the free-throw line. The Cards, finished with a 29-9 record despite having a rash of preseason injuries.

“It just hit me. Can’t believe my junior season is over! Gonna feel weird not going to practice tomorrow!” Slaughter tweeted Wednesday.

However there’s always next year, and her senior season.

“Our goal is to take one more step and be a national champion, and that’s what we plan on doing,” UofL Coach Jeff Walz said at Wednesday’s celebration.