CRAWFORD | No. 3 Louisville women blow by Kentucky 87-63, eye bigger prizes
Louisville got a big scoring game from Asia Durr and Dana Evans and Arica Carter combined for 18 assists in the No. 3-ranked Cardinals' 87-63 win at rival Kentucky on Sunday.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) –Might as well keep saying it: This University of Louisville women’s basketball team bears paying attention to. They keep proving it.
The Cardinals hadn’t beaten the University of Kentucky in Lexington since 2007, and hadn’t won in UK’s Memorial Coliseum since Feb. 6, 1979, a string of 18 straight Wildcat wins broken only by four meetings in Rupp Arena – and Sunday afternoon’s game before a crowd of 5,871.
Louisville was a big favorite in this game, coming in ranked No. 3 in the nation. But the Cards have been favored before. Somehow, no matter how good Louisville has been, the Kentucky game was a knock-down, drag-out, no matter what.
The Cardinals might be a different kind of good this season, and Kentucky continues to look for answers. Louisville scored the first seven points of Sunday’s game, led by seven at the end of the first quarter, used a 14-2 run midway through the second to go up 19, led by 22 at the half and Kentucky never got closer than 21 the rest of the game.
Louisville won 87-63, just two points shy of matching the Wildcats’ largest margin of defeat at home in the rivalry.
PHOTO GALLERY | Images from Louisville's win at Kentucky
Asia Durr scored 32 points on 12-22 shooting, and made 6 of 11 three-pointers. Kentucky had no answer for her. But Louisville coach Jeff Walz came away impressed with the way his team plays off of Durr.
“It’s not just one player,” Walz said. “Asia shoots the heck out of the ball. When she scores, her teammates do a great job of finding her in open space. We execute, I mean, I was really impressed with us. If you watch that ball game, I mean Asia scored a lot in the half court, because we took the time, we set good screens and found her. Now I say it all of the time, she has to knock the shots down and she did. Having balance and depth, at this level, is something we've not had in the past. It makes life easier for her. . . . You look at our stats, we’re one rebound and three assists away from having four players with double-doubles. It’s not just one player. That shows a lot of balance, which makes us better.”
Louisville’s guard play keeps getting better. Besides Durr, starting point guard Arica Carter had 11 points and 8 assists, and freshman Dana Evans had 11 points and 10 assists off the bench. The Cards also got 10 points and 10 rebounds from Sam Fuehring, and 18 points and 9 rebounds from Myisha Hines-Allen. Of Louisville’s 33 field goals, 22 came off assists.
Kentucky hung tough. After being outscored 47-25 in the first half, the Wildcats were outscored just 40-38 in the second half. They played the kind of resourceful game head coach Matthew Mitchell had hoped to see them play throughout. But Louisville came in looking to stop sharp-shooting Maci Morris, and for much of the game, had success. She finished with 16 points, but made only one three-pointer and attempted only three.
“That’s a tough game, tough loss for us today,” Mitchell said. “You have to give Louisville a tremendous amount of credit. Just a really good basketball team. Play hard, play well, play together, well-coached and just really have a great team. We let it get away there in the last 12-13 minutes of the first half.”
In the second half, Mitchell said, “I thought offensively we played with a little bit more poise. I thought we were really frantic – and you have to give that credit to Louisville – they play real hard and did some good things defensively. But, I thought when we slowed down defensively we tried to focus on execution and it went better. Defensively, we are not operating at a very high level and that’s my job. I have to get that corrected and we did not box out today and they are a more athletic team.”
VIDEO | Eric Crawford's takeaways from the game
Louisville outrebounded Kentucky 36-25 and held a 20-8 edge in second-chance points. The Cardinals also outscored Kentucky 22-5 off turnovers – normally a staple for the UK women – and 36-25 in the paint.
Walz said Fuehring set a tone by grabbing the first offensive rebound of the game and getting a put-back. Louisville played physically in the paint and Feurhing and Hines-Allen combined for nine offensive rebounds, four more than Kentucky had as a team.
For Hines-Allen, whose brother plays football for Kentucky, winning a second straight over the rival Wildcats as a senior had special meaning.
“It means a lot since it was my last one, I just wanted to come in here and do whatever I could for the team so we could get the win,” she said. “It’s a big one. You know what it means to Kentucky and you know what it means back at home. It was just good that we were able to get that win. I think it was some years – I don’t know how long – Coach Walz mentioned it before the game that we weren’t able to ever win here in some time.”
Walz, as a rule, has downplayed the importance of the rivalry in the larger scheme of things. He has taken the program to two NCAA runner-up finishes, but hasn’t been back to the Elite Eight since 2014.
This is a team that has that ability, and more. It has depth, and young players who continue to improve. Walz has been mindful of that. The Cards will play three more road games – at Air Force on Wednesday, then at Georgia Tech and N.C. State after Christmas, before returning home for an ACC game against Duke.
“I’m really proud of them,” Walz said of his team. “It’s a good win, but now we’ve got to get set for the next ball game. There’s a lot of bigger things in front of us and we know that, and we’ve got to continue to improve.”
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