No. 7 Louisville women run past Ball St. 105-67
Ball State coach Brady Sallee knew what his team was up against Tuesday night.
No. 7 Louisville was bigger, faster, stronger and deeper.
Ball State couldn't keep up. After spending three days preparing for their toughest game of the season, Sallee's team was on its heels early and the Cardinals ran away with a 105-67 victory.
''That's a whale of a basketball team that we just played right there. Clearly we didn't handle it well coming out of the chute,'' Sallee said. ''Hopefully, when Louisville is playing down in Nashville at the Final Four, we can say `Hey, we, know what that's like.''
Just plain tough.
Ball State (3-6) was led by Jill Morrison with 17 points and Nathalie Fontaine with 14 points and six rebounds. Nobody else scored more than eight. Louisville's defense forced 21 turnovers, 14 in the first half, and the Cardinals had 18 offensive rebounds despite missing only 29 shots.
''It was a fast-paced game and you had to adjust on the fly,'' Morrison said.
Louisville was simply too good to give Ball State a chance at pulling its first upset of a ranked team since the stunner over Tennessee in the 2009 NCAA tournament.
Instead, the Cardinals followed coach Jeff Walz's pregame instructions perfectly by starting fast and tuning up for this weekend's showdown with No. 11 Colorado.
Shoni Schimmel had 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in 27 minutes, and Sara Hammond scored 11 of her 13 points in the first five minutes to help the seventh-ranked Cardinals run away with a 105-67 victory at Ball State.
''Coach told us to go out there and get at it right from the beginning,'' Schimmel said. ''So we came out did what we had to do.''
There was never a doubt about this one.
The Cardinals (11-1) have won four straight since losing to rival Kentucky and have scored 213 points since Saturday and won those two games by a combined total of 93 points. And by topping 100 points for the fourth time this season, they already have tied the school's single-season record with eight 90-plus point games. The mark was first established in 1990-91.
That's not all.
Three days after setting season highs with 43 field goals made and 27 assists in a 108-53 rout of Austin Peay, Louisville was just as proficient against Ball State (3-6). It again made 43 baskets, had 28 assists and grabbed 18 offensive rebounds on just 29 missed shots.
But Walz wasn't as interested in the impressive numbers. He was looking for his team to make an early statement.
''I just told them `We're going into situations now where we have the target on our back, where teams say this is an opportunity to get a top-10 win and you can't walk into any gym and think that somebody's not excited to play you,''' said Walz, who agreed to the game when Sallee, his old college pal, wanted to put it on the schedule. ''So I've been trying to tell them that we need to be the one to throw the first punch.''
Louisville did that, too. It scored the first nine points, and Hammond's opening scoring flurry helped the Cardinals take a commanding 22-2 with 13:47 to go in the first half. Ball State still didn't have a basket at that point.
The Cardinals finished the half shooting 67.6 percent and with a 32-12 scoring advantage in the paint. They also forced 14 turnovers, had a 16-0 edge on fast-break points and outscored Ball State's reserves 25-2. Predictably, the Cardinals led 60-29 at the half and had their most points in any half this season.
And then it got worse. Louisville took a 40-point lead with 10:15 left in the game and never let Ball State get closer than 37.
Jude Schimmel also had 14 points in her second straight start for the Cardinals.