No. 9 Louisville 77, E. Kentucky 53
Marie Carpenter said Eastern Kentucky was ready to come out with a strong first punch. It was No. 9 Louisville that fought back late.
Cierra Warren scored 15 points to overcome Shoni Schimmel's tough shooting night in her debut to lead the Cardinals to a 77-53 victory over the Lady Colonels on Thursday night.
"We just knew before the game even started that we just had to come out throwing the first punch," Carpenter said. "We just had that adrenaline going. We were in it as a team. We knew what we had to do - come out, fight hard, and play as a team - and that's what we started to do. "
Eastern Kentucky (0-2) led 31-30 at halftime and was ahead over a 14-minute span before the Cardinals took the lead for good when Schimmel hit a jumper to give Louisville a 42-41 lead.
Schimmel finished with 12 points on 5-of-20 shooting following a two-game suspension by the NCAA after she participated in a non-sanctioned three-on-three tournament this summer.
After struggling most of the first half, the sophomore point guard began distributing the ball to teammates and the Cardinals (2-1) finally found their stride. Schimmel hit a jumper to give Louisville the lead for good and the Cardinals stretched it to the final margin.
Louisville has won four straight over Eastern Kentucky, which last beat the Cardinals in 1990 and haven't even faced a ranked opponent in McBrayer Arena since hosting Georgia eight years ago.
Becky Burke's 3-pointer a little over two minutes after Schimmel's go-ahead shot gave the Cardinals their biggest lead to that point, 49-43, as the senior guard looked up and shrieked after her basket.
The run was just getting started.
Carla Booth, who scored 14 points, committed a turnover on the other end, Bria Smith took a sharp pass from Schimmel and sliced in for a three-point play to put the Cardinals ahead 52-43 with 11:30 left and Louisville rolled from there.
"I'm just pleased with our players' overall effort from top to bottom," Eastern Kentucky coach Chrissy Roberts said. "We came out and competed and we showed a lot of heart. We're going to take this, learn from it and continue to move forward."
Schimmel, who averaged 15.1 points as a freshman, scored her first basket just over two minutes in after a steal by Sara Hammond and hit a 3-pointer on her next attempt to give Louisville an early advantage, but the Lady Colonels took control when Carpenter and Booth hit consecutive 3s as Schimmel went cold.
That's the way it would stay until her second-half jumper changed the momentum.
Eastern Kentucky hosted a top-10 team for the first time since then-No. 1 Tennessee in 1993. The Lady Colonels fell to 0-31 when facing a ranked team.
The Lady Colonels led the Musketeers with under five minutes to play before losing their opener on Saturday and appeared poised for even bigger things early in this one, taking control and forcing the Cardinals into 12 first-half turnovers.
It wouldn't last.
"Who knows what happened in that Louisville locker room, but it seemed like the momentum was reversed, and they had most of the momentum the second half," Carpenter said. "We didn't have the same adrenaline we first had at the end. But we proved to ourselves that we can compete."