LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville women's basketball team won its eighth straight game since a loss at Ohio State in early December, pressuring Wake Forest into 18 turnovers and cashing those in for 28 points in a 75-61 victory at the KFC Yum! Center on Sunday.
The Cardinals, who rose to No. 2 in the RPI and to 16-1 overall (4-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) with the win, are tough at home. They're now 8-0 in home games with an average winning margin of 19.5 points and 5-1 in true road games with an average margin of 16.8.
They won their past two road games by a combined 71 points and now their past three home games by 23, but coach Jeff Walz said his team isn't getting too comfortable at home, where now three straight ACC opponents have been able to hang around in the second half.
"I don't think it's road or home," Walz said. "I think what took place was we went up 14 and then gave up 24 in the third quarter. We just weren't very good defensively, and we have to work on that."
Louisville finished the first half with a 10-0 run to lead 38-23 at the break. The Cards successfully got a score playing a 2-for-1 offense with a quick shot, then got a steal and eventually wound up scoring 6 points in the final 41 seconds of the half.
After scoring a couple of quick baskets to open the second half, the Cards led by 19. They had trouble, however, stopping Wake Forest the rest of the quarter.
"I thought we showed good basketball IQ at the end of the first half," Walz said. "... I was really excited about that, because we executed when they switched to a zone at the end of the half. But then there are other plays where we have to pay attention, look at the clock and know what's coming."
Louisville had a great deal of success with full-court pressure, but Walz said the press isn't an every-night weapon. He'll use it based on matchups.
"If we had tried that at Miami, they would've shot a hundred layups," he said. "But at Miami we did a great job of going under screens and keeping them in front of us. So for us, it's looking at lineups and trying to decide where we think our advantage is, and then trying to make sure we take advantage of it."
The Cards were led in scoring by a familiar cast. Dana Evans finished with 20 points and nine assists. Jazmine Jones, who left the game with a bloody nose in the second quarter, came back to finish with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field. Kylee Shook had 10 points and eight rebounds, and Elizabeth Balogun finished with 10 points.
Yacine Diop, an increasingly important contributor off the bench, finished with 6 points. Louisville finished with a 28-4 edge in points off turnovers, but were outscored 16-6 on second-chance points, and were outrebounded 42-32 for the game.
"At one point, we gave up four consecutive offensive rebounds that led to scores," Walz said. "If we want to compete at a higher level, we can't do that. We've got to be able to rebound."
The Cards visit Boston College on Tuesday before a nationally televised game at North Carolina next Sunday.
"I want to see us improve our tempo at the offensive end," Walz said. "I want to see us get into things quicker, sprint off of screens, sprint on cuts, not hold the ball as much. I thought the ball got stuck at times today, and it was everybody. I want to see the ball get up the floor quicker. I thought Dana did a good job pushing the ball and finding Jaz several times. ... We want more of that."
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