CRAWFORD | Louisville women cruise past Virginia Tech for 18th straight win
The No. 3-ranked University of Louisville women's basketball team sprinted to an early 20-point lead then cruised past Virginia Tech in an ACC warm-up for Thursday's big visit from No. 2 ranked Notre Dame.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – It was another sweltering start for the University of Louisville women’s basketball team, and another cruise-control finish.
The No. 3-ranked Cardinals coasted to a 67-56 win over Virginia Tech in the KFC Yum! Center on Sunday. The final score was not indicative of Louisville’s domination.
They led 29-9 at the end of the first quarter, and Virginia Tech never climbed back within double digits. The Hokies went on a 13-2 run over the game’s final 6:08, and the Cardinals scored only 19 second-half points, but still comfortably cruised to their 18th straight victory, and fourth straight in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
“I thought we played a great first half,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “The thing you have to understand is, it’s 29-9 after the first quarter. It’s not going to be 58-18 at half. It’s just not going to happen. We’re playing in the ACC. The teams are too good. Teams are going to make runs and compete and fight. Nobody’s going to give up. For us, we’ve just got to be more efficient. We get sloppy, we make mistakes, we miss shots in the paint that we didn’t miss in the first half. And that’s what I’m continuing to challenge our players with. But I was encouraged because the entire first half we played well. In the past you get out to a 20-point lead, and it’s down to 12 at half.”
In the second half, Virginia Tech went to a box-and-one to try to contain Louisville’s Asia Durr, who had 19 points at halftime, and it largely worked. She scored only two points after halftime.
Walz adjusted to it, moving Durr to point guard to put the ball in her hands as a necessity, but wants to see her embrace that position a little more. Donovan Mitchell was forced into the point guard spot by injury a year ago for the U of L men’s team, and his passing and penetration made it one of the team’s better stretches of the season.
"That’s something we’re going to have to do more of, when teams go to the box and chaser against her, put the ball in her hands and let her come off ball screens,” he said. “What I’ve got to get her to do is, she’s got to be able to get 4-5 assists a game. She’s too good, too good with the ball not to. When two players rush at her, she’s got to find that one that’s open. As soon as you start doing that, you’re really hard to guard. . . . That’s really the only area of her game right now – and consistency of rebounding – that I’m challenging her on. She’s attacking, she’s taking great shots. But overall I thought we executed well even when they went to the box and chase.”
Durr, Sam Fuehring and Myisha Hines-Allen spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench as Walz continued to assess some of his different personnel combinations.
Louisville shot 48.3 percent for the game and held Virginia Tech, which fell to 12-4 with the loss, to 30.4. The Cards outscored the Hokies 32-18 in the paint and 24-16 off turnovers, despite committing 18 turnovers themselves.
But Walz is looking for more production and consistency from his bench now that ACC play has begun. He got just 16 points off the bench on Sunday, to 15 for Virginia Tech.
“Our bench has to become more consistent, and that’s my challenge to them,” Walz said. “You know, there’s a big difference between playing 15-18 minutes and playing seven. And I told them, you guys have got to be more consistent or you’ll be playing the seven. That’s when you see me take somebody out to give them a two-minute breather, then go back with them after two minutes. So that’s the challenge to them. I’m challenging Kylie (Shook). I need her to be more aggressive, more physical. She goes 5-8 from the field, has 11 points, stat sheet looks great, but her presence isn’t there, and that’s what she’s got to continue to develop and work on. Bionca (Dunham) has to give us more than she’s giving us right now.”
Durr led Louisville with 21 points Sunday and Sam Fuehring added 12 points on 6-7 shooting. Shook had 11 points off the bench. Hines Allen had eight points and 15 rebounds.
Now the Cards prepare for a visit from No. 2-ranked Notre Dame Thursday night in the KFC Yum! Center. The 7 p.m. game will be televised by ESPN.
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