(Photo of Liz Dixon: Jared Anderson via the Atlantic Coast Conference)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Dana Evans scored 20 points, including Louisville’s final 12 capped by two free throws with 6.5 seconds remaining, helping the top-ranked Cardinals survive Miami (Florida) 79-76 on Tuesday.
Louisville (15-0, 8-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) led throughout in winning their third consecutive game as the No. 1 women’s team, but had to hold off a furious late rally by the Hurricanes. Evans took over for the final nine minutes, making all eight free throws around a couple of baskets to give the Cardinals just enough space.
The senior All-American’s last four from the line were particularly huge, with the first two with 13.8 seconds left giving Louisville a 77-71 cushion that offset Kelsey Marshall’s 3-pointer five seconds later. Evans was fouled after inbounding the ball and made two more to make it 79-74, a safe margin to withstand Taylor Mason’s layup at the buzzer.
Elizabeth Dixon scored a season-high 21 points off the bench while Elizabeth Balogun had 14 for Louisville.
Marshall scored 19 points and Naomi Mbandu 17 for the Hurricanes (7-6, 4-6), who fell to 0-8 against the No. 1 team. They outshot Louisville 47%-46% but finished 2-3 on a five-game road stretch.
Miami: Fresh off rallying from 23 points down to win 72-68 at Pittsburgh, the Hurricanes looked like they might repeat the feat against Louisville in whacking a 16-point deficit down. They just kept sending Evans to the line, and that made the difference in another tight contest.
Louisville: The Cardinals survived yet another challenge since becoming No. 1 thanks to Evans, who offset 5 of 15 shooting to win the game at the line. Dixon provided a big boost as well with her best since transferring to Louisville from Georgia Tech, where she twice scored a career-best 22 two seasons ago.
Miami hosts Georgia Tech on Thursday night to begin a four-game home stand.
Louisville hosts North Carolina on Thursday in the second of a four-game home stand.
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