Louisville's Arica Carter, left, and Virginia Tech's Vanessa Panousis scramble for a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, in Blacksburg, Va. (AP Photo/Don Petersen)
Don Petersen
February 19, 2015

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) After watching his team miss its first five shots and turn the ball over three times in six possessions, Louisville coach Jeff Walz knew exactly where to turn.

His reserves.

Shawnta' Dyer scored 15 points off the bench to lead No. 8 Louisville to a 69-49 victory over Virginia Tech on Thursday night.

Dyer led the way as Louisville's backups scored 39 points to lift the Cardinals (23-3, 11-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) to their fourth straight win and sixth in their last seven.

The Cardinals moved into a tie for second place in the ACC with two regular-season games left and appear poised for a big run in the NCAA tournament.

''If we continue to play good basketball and pass the ball like we have been, I think we can go pretty far,'' Walz said. ''At the same time, I think there is a fine line when we're good and when we're bad, and we've got to eliminate the 5- or 6-minute stretches when we're not very good. Can we put a 40-minute game together? If we do that, I think we have a chance to make a solid run.''

It helps to have depth. Walz subbed in three players - Dyer, Emmonie Henderson and Arica Carter - before the first media timeout to get things turned around. Then the trio of Dyer, Bria Smith (12 points) and Henderson (nine points) outscored the starters by themselves and nearly outscored the Hokies.

''It's something we emphasized every day in practice - bench productivity,'' said Dyer, who hit 6 of 8 from the floor and 3 of 4 from the free-throw line. ''It says something about our depth. We have expectations for our bench players to produce.''

Walz agreed.

''Our bench has played well this year,'' he said. ''Shawnta' has been a big part of that. Our bench play has been very good all season.''

The Cardinals got behind 7-3 early, but used a 17-5 run to pull ahead for good. Five players scored as Louisville shot 8 for 12 from the field in the run. The Hokies were just 2 for 8 and committed six of their 12 first-half turnovers in that span.

Mariya Moore added 14 points for Louisville.

Vanessa Panousis scored 11 points to lead Virginia Tech (10-17, 1-13), which has lost seven straight and 12 of 13.

The Hokies trailed 34-23 at halftime before pulling to 38-33 on a field goal by Panousis with 17:09 left. However, Moore answered with her fourth 3-pointer of the game to start an 18-4 run, and the Hokies got no closer.

Virginia Tech made just one field goal over the next 8:44 after Panousis' basket. The Hokies missed 10 of 11 shots and four of their 18 turnovers came in that span.

Louisville scored 21 points off Tech turnovers.

''Our mistakes tend to lead to baskets, and we're not deep enough or physical enough to withstand that,'' Virginia Tech coach Dennis Wolff said. ''They had to work to score against us in the half-court, but if we're going to turn the ball over and they're getting easy opportunities, that's very hard. That has demoralized us at different points throughout the year. We have to continue to work through that.''


Louisville: The Cardinals reached 23 wins for just the fifth time in school history. ... The Cardinals are now holding opponents to just 56 points per game, ranking first in the ACC in scoring defense. ... They ranked fourth in the ACC in field-goal percentage defense at 36.7 percent and held the Hokies to just 35.2 percent (19 of 54). ... Sara Hammond played in her 133rd career game, seventh-most in school history. Hammond has started 106 of those games.

Virginia Tech: The game marked the Hokies' final home game of the season and the school recognized Kelsey Conyers, the team's lone senior, before the game. ... Panousis, the Hokies' leading scorer coming in (13.2 ppg), has hit just 26 of 94 (27.7 percent) from the floor during Virginia Tech's losing streak. ... Rachel Camp, Virginia Tech's other double-figure scorer, has hit just 14 of 61 (23 percent) during the Hokies' losing skid.


Louisville: At Notre Dame on Monday.

Virginia Tech: At Virginia on Sunday.

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