No. 7 Louisville 76, E. Kentucky 42
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)
Jude Schimmel is beginning to step out of her sister's shadow at Louisville.
The sophomore reserve scored a career-high 12 points Wednesday night in the seventh-ranked Cardinals' 76-42 victory over Eastern Kentucky.
Her older sister Shoni, the Cardinals' scoring leader and a preseason Wooden Award candidate, also had 12 points.
Jude Schimmel's scoring breakout came two games after a career-high seven assists in a win against Oregon State. One of the Cardinals' best ball handlers even as a freshman, Louisville coach Jeff Walz has worked to add another facet to her game.
''Now that teams know how well she can pass the ball, they're going to make her finish now,'' Walz said. ''I thought she did a really good job of that tonight.''
Shoni Schimmel had all the accolades coming out of high school in Mission, Ore., and her picture now adorns billboards across the city but its her sister who had the game-winning steal and score in the Cardinals' opener against then-No. 15 Texas A&M.
Walz calls Jude his best option coming off ball screens due to ability to get low and change speeds and she has shown considerable growth in her second year after averaging 1.7 points as a freshman.
''The biggest thing for me was the adjustment from high school to college,'' Jude Schimmel said. ''I've had to adjust to the strength and the speed of the game.''
That awareness has made her more self-assured and a legitimate weapon on a deep Louisville bench.
''My biggest improvement is probably my confidence and my mentality on the game. I'm more positive and I just come ready.''
Monique Reid added 11 points as all 11 players scored for the Cardinals (8-0), who started slow before overwhelming the Lady Colonels.
Jade Barber had 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead Eastern Kentucky (3-3), and Jalisa Bryant added 10 points, all in the first half.
Two 3-pointers by Bryant gave EKU a 6-0 lead as Louisville was scoreless for the first 3:47.
Bria Smith hit the first of two free throws to get the Cardinals on the scoreboard, starting a 19-0 run before Bryant's third 3-pointer of the half pulled the Lady Colonels to 19-9 with 8:36 remaining in the opening half.
Eastern Kentucky made just two free throws the rest of the half and trailed 39-11 at the break.
The Cardinals missed their first 11 shots before Reid's basket on three-point play on a post move gave them their first field goal nearly six minutes into the game. It was the first time in five games that Louisville trailed.
''We started out flat and it took us about 5 minutes to get in there and get energy going,'' said Louisville forward Sara Hammond, who finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
Louisville coach Jeff Walz attributed his team's slow start to recent road trips. The Cardinals won three games in the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Nov. 20-22 to win the Hardwood Tournament of Hope before Monday's 79-61 win at Tennesee-Martin.
''We're a tired group,'' Walz said. ''When you go back and look at our travel schedule, it's been a little crazy.''
The Cardinals' defense sparked the first-half rally, scoring 22 points off 17 turnovers and holding EKU to just 14 percent shooting. It was the fifth time Louisville has held an opponent under 50 points this season.
EKU turned the ball over just the seven times in the second half and the Cardinals only outscored the Colonels 37-31 after the break. Barber's layup at with 13:33 remaining cut Louisville's lead to 46-25, the closest margin in the second half.
EKU lost its third straight after dropping games against Florida State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico during the Thanksgiving week.
Louisville's win comes before an in-state matchup of top 10 teams as No. 9 Kentucky visits on Sunday. It will be highest ranking in series history after the Cardinals were 10th and the Wildcats No. 12 last year when Kentucky won 74-54 in Lexington.
Hammond called the Louisville-Kentucky basketball rivalry the best in college sports.
''You all have seen in men's basketball how intense it is. It's just the same in women's basketball,'' she said. ''We're two top 10 teams - just like the men are - so it's going it's going to be a battle.''