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Bionca Dunham's defense aids Louisville conference win

Senior forward blocks two shots in the fourth quarter against Syracuse

When there weren’t offensive opportunities for Bionca Dunham, the senior focused on defense.

Dunham had four points and six rebounds in 32 minutes as Louisville women’s basketball defeated Syracuse 62-58 at the KFC Yum! Center Dec. 29, but made her biggest plays on the defensive end for the Cardinals’ first conference win of the season.

With Louisville clinging to a one-point lead with less than a minute left, Dunham blocked a shot and grabbed the rebound with 52 seconds left to protect the Louisville lead. After Elizabeth Balogun rebounded her own missed free throw for a layup to extend Louisville’s advantage to 61-58, Dunham blocked another shot with 14 seconds left.

“Offensively I wasn’t doing really good so I just tried to play my best on defense and try to get my teammates open by setting screens for Dana Evans, Elizabeth Balogun and Jaz [Jones], try to get them open,” Dunham said.

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Louisville coach Jeff Walz didn’t think the 6-foot-2 forward played bad on the offensive end of the floor. He thought Dunham played within herself against a Syracuse defense that didn’t allow for interior touches.

“Because of how they defend the post, they don’t rise up very much, that’s why Jaz [Jones] goes 8 for 10 from the free throw line because they never came up to help where now all of a sudden, Bionca is open on the low block,” Walz said.

Dunham made a pair of free throws early in the fourth quarter. Walz said Dunham wanted the ball, but opponents determine how the offense is run.

“Different games are going to present different scoring opportunities for kids on this team,” Walz said. “That’s what I got to get them to understand. If you play within yourself, good things can happen.”