CRAWFORD | Durr, Moore lead Louisville women to upset at No. 19 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Durr, Moore lead Louisville women to upset at No. 19 Michigan State

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Jeff Walz talks to his team after its season opener. WDRB photo by Eric Crawford. Jeff Walz talks to his team after its season opener. WDRB photo by Eric Crawford.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The past week of practices under University of Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz, after four losses in his team’s first five games, have not been warm and fuzzy, nor have they been for the faint of heart.

This past week, Walz demanded toughness. He insisted on it. He told his players, it would be his way.

They’d do well to believe him. He once put the ball into play with only four players on the court. I have little doubt he’d do it again.

But there was no need to do that Thursday night in East Lansing, Mich. No. 19-ranked Michigan State was an unlikely spot for Louisville to draw a line after its rough start, but that’s what the Cardinals did, using a 16-6 run in the third quarter and improved defense late to hold off the Spartans 85-78 in the Breslin Center.

The Cardinals had five players score in double-figures, led by Mariya Moore and Asia Durr with 20 points each.

Durr had missed the last three games after having considerable pain from a groin operation. But Walz said some good medical news gave her a new outlook — if not necessarily a respite from the pain. Doctors told her she wasn’t going to hurt her recovery by playing as much as she could.

“That’s the Asia Durr we recruited,” he told Matt Andrews on his Learfield Sports postgame radio program. “I’ve been trying to tell people she hasn’t been herself. And I’ve got some that doubted her, and doubted us, like, ‘I don’t see it.’ You know what? She’s hurt. And she finally got good news from the doctor. The surgery looks great. It’s just a long healing process. She’s going to have to play with some pain. And that’s what she needed. And she went out there and she did exactly what she could do. I mean, she’s a difference maker.”

The Cards have gotten some good play this season from various players, but on this night they finally put it all together, particularly Myisha Hines-Allen, who went 5-8 from the field and added seven rebounds.

The Cardinals never trailed in the game. They grabbed a 12-point lead at the end of the first quarter and led by 13 at halftime. After a Michigan State run in the late third quarter and early fist pulled the Spartans within 62-61 with 8:49 left in the game, the Cardinals outscored them 16-6 to lead 78-67 with 3:23 left. From there, Louisville made some free-throws and got some stops to preserve the win.

“We had 29 made field goals on 20 assists,” Walz said. “But we still have to guard, golly, it’s so frustrating. We are, again, our field-goal percentage defense, we plummeted again, because we gave up 49 percent. We can’t keep shooting 53 percent from the field and 8 of 17 from the three-point line and expect to win. We’re not going to shoot those numbers every night. We’ve got to get a mentality to defend.

“We play hard, but we don’t play smart,” Walz went on. “. . . But I’m proud of them. Our effort, it’s getting better. I keep telling them it’s a process. We have to stick to the process.”

The Cardinals had four players with at least four assists, led by Briahanna Jackson’s five. She also finished with 13 points and Cortnee Walton had 12. The Cardinals were outrebounded 37-22, but forced 27 turnovers.

“For about five minutes there, we started worrying about winning the game, and we go on about a six-minute drought, five minute drought, don’t make the field goals, don’t do anything on defense, and I’m like, stop thinking about winning,” Walz said. “I don’t care about that. I know my fans are going to think I’m crazy, I don’t care about winning basketball games right now. We are not going out here just trying to win one game. We have to get better in practice every day. It’s a process. We have to stick to the process and continue to get better.”

At Michigan State, they did.

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