An off afternoon offensively didn’t hamper Louisville women’s basketball from earning its first conference win of the season. The Cardinals defeated Syracuse 62-58 at the KFC Yum! Center Dec. 29 as Jazmine Jones scored 24 points for an offense that shot 35 percent from the field.
After building a double-digit lead in the third quarter, Louisville allowed Syracuse to take a one-point lead with less than three minutes left, but the Cardinals’ defense and free throws from Jones and a basket by Elizabeth Balogun helped seal the victory.
Jones went 8 of 12 from the field and 7 of 8 from the free throw line to lead Louisville scores. Balogun added 13 points as the only other double-figure scorer for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals weren’t sharp offensively in the early going, making 2 of their first 10 shots. Syracuse led 10-4 four minutes into the first quarter as Digna Strautmane made two corner 3-pointers.
Jones helped Louisville get out of its offensive funk, making three midrange jumpers during an 8-0 run that gave the Cardinals their first lead.
Kiara Lewis broke a 17-17 tie with a 3-pointer that helped Syracuse take a one-point lead into the second quarter. The Orange shot 54 percent from the field in the first quarter.
Louisville briefly retook the lead on a jumper by Jones early in the second quarter, but Maeya Djaldi-Tabdi scored on the ensuing Syracuse possession, converting a three-point-play.
The offensive struggles continued as both teams combined for five points in the first five minutes of the second quarter. Jones made a shot from behind the arc from the top of the key to return the lead to Louisville at 24-23.
Jones was the lone bright spot offensively for the Cardinals in the first half. She finished 7 of 9 from the field with 18 points while the rest of the team shot just 17.2 percent from the field.
Louisville led 31-30 at halftime as both teams shot 32 percent from the field. Dana Evans, Louisville’s leading scorer this season, went 0 of 7 from the field and went scoreless in the first half.
The Cardinals scored on their first four possessions of the third quarter, but Lewis made a 3-pointer to cut Syracuse’s deficit to 38-35. Shook made a shot from behind the arc to extend Louisville’s lead to eight points midway through the third quarter.
Jones found Evans in the corner for a 3-pointer that gave Louisville its first double-digit advantage with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Syracuse stayed within striking distance, returning its deficit to single digits late in the third quarter.
The Orange tied the game with 5:23 left when Teisha Hyman hit a 3-pointer. Syracuse outscored Louisville by seven points through the first five minutes of the fourth quarter as the Cardinals missed 5 of 6 shots.
Evans broke the 54-54 tie with a 3-pointer late in the shot clock with 3:45 left.
Amaya Finklea-Guity scored with 2:37 left to give Syracuse a 58-57 lead. Jones returned the lead to Louisville with a pair of free throws with 1:19 left.
Balogun rebounded her own missed free throw and scored with 31.2 seconds left for a 61-58 advantage.