LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville coach Jeff Walz told his players that if they were upset by the death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant, the best thing they could do to honor him was to go out and play as hard as they could, and as well as they could.
His team, it appears, took those words to heart.
Louisville broke open Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh with a 14-0 first-quarter run, and never was threatened in an 83-49 victory in front of a KFC Yum! Center crowd of 11,624.
It was the Cardinals most dominant home performance of the conference season, though it wasn’t surprising against a Pittsburgh team that came in 0-7 in league play and 3-15 overall.
Pitt coach Lance White summed it up this way: “When you play as well as you can possibly play and you go in at half and are down 17, it’s tough. . . . This is the most people most of our kids have ever played in front of in their lives, plus they’re bigger, stronger, faster at every position.”
The Cardinals, who improved to 20-1, got great balance. Six players reached double figures in scoring, but no player scored more than 12.
Dana Evans, Elizabeth Balogun, Kylee Shook and Bianca Dunham had 12 points each, while Jazmine Jones had 11 and Elizabeth Dixon 10. Yacine Diop finished with eight.
Louisville dished out 23 assists and outscored Pitt 17-2 on the fast break.
“I was really, really happy with how we passed the ball,” Walz said. “We scored it well, and we were pretty darned consistent and balanced from start to finish. We needed a game like this at home. We haven’t played extremely well here, like we have in the past.”
Walz also said he was pleased with the defensive effort.
“We got our hands in passing lanes. Yacine got her hands on the ball a lot in 22 minutes and I was really impressed with that,” Walz said. “When we turned them over, we did a pretty good job of getting out and turning those into points.”
Louisville continues ACC play on Thursday at Notre Dame, a longtime conference nemesis that has fallen on hard times this season. The Irish are just 2-6 in the league and 7-13 overall. But Walz said he expects them to be at their best.
“It’s going to be a ballgame on Thursday,” he said. “I don’t care what their scores have been. When we go up to Notre Dame, it’s going to be a battle.”
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