No. 7 Louisville women beat Evansville 73-51
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) In its final game before conference play, opportunistic Louisville took full advantage of all the mistakes it forced from Evansville.
Jude Schimmel and Emmonnie Henderson scored 12 points apiece to lead the seventh-ranked Cardinals to a 73-51 rout Monday night.
Bria Smith added 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting for the Cardinals (12-1), who scored the first 13 points of the game - all off turnovers. They kept up the pressure throughout the first half and forced 15 turnovers by Evansville (5-6), leading to 23 of their 41 points.
''Our defense is what makes us go,'' Smith said.
The sluggish start surprised Evansville coach Oties Epps, who said his team worked on dealing with the Cardinals' pressure in practice.
''We knew what we were going to see with their press,'' Epps said. ''It took us 6 or 7 minutes to adjust to that. We work in that kind of stuff every day. I thought we'd be a little bit more prepared.''
Louisville outrebounded Evansville 45-26, led by Henderson's nine. About the only area where the Cardinals struggled was from the perimeter, as they shot just 2 of 15 on 3-pointers.
''Tonight, we were obviously a lot stronger,'' Henderson said.
Evansville pulled within 12 three times in the second half but could never draw closer.
Sara Dickey led the Purple Aces with 14 points.
Dickey scored Evansville's first seven points, and the Purple Aces cut Louisville's lead to 17-12 midway through the first half. But the Cardinals went on a 14-3 run highlighted by Schimmel's steal and coast-to-coast layup.
Evansville made things a bit interesting when Louisville coach Jeff Walz made wholesale substitutions early in the second half. He warned his starters they would sit if they couldn't trap the inbounds passer. When the inbounder got the ball, Walz summoned his reserves with 18:36 remaining. The starters sat for more than five minutes.
As one of five Atlantic Coast Conference schools in the Top 25, Louisville is considered one of the best teams in its new conference. But Walz told his team that ACC foes will be able to capitalize on the mistakes it was able to overcome on Monday.
''We have some room to grow, there's no question about it,'' said Walz, who added that he was still pleased with his team's performance.
Dickey had a chance to cut Louisville's lead to 10 with 7:21 left, but she missed both free throws. Schimmel, who shot 5 of 7, responded with a jumper that made it 61-47.
Louisville: Under Walz, the Cardinals are 8-0 in their first game after the Christmas break. Coming into Monday's game, Louisville had won those games by an average of 29 points.
Evansville: The Purple Aces were facing their second ranked opponent this season. They lost 83-39 to West Virginia on Nov. 26.
Louisville opens ACC play Friday by hosting Georgia Tech.
Evansville opens Missouri Valley Conference play at Missouri State.