Xavier struggles from field in loss to Louisville
First year coach Amy Waugh's Xavier team is rebuilding after losing four starters from a team that spent all of last season in the Top 10.
She said her young team is in the middle of a tough two-game stretch that will pay dividends as the season progresses.
The Musketeers were held to just 12 first-half points Sunday, losing to No. 9 Louisville 62-44. They return home to face No. 5 Stanford at 1 p.m. Friday.
''We will be battle tested early,'' Waugh said of facing back-to-back top 10 opponents. ''It is a learning experience for us and a process that is going to take all season long.''
The Musketeers shot just 17.9 percent shooting (5-of-28) in the first half, firing up 14 threes and making just one.
''I honestly believe we took some great shots. We just didn't make them,'' Waugh said.
Waugh said Louisville's constantly changing defense that included a full-court press and a zone intended to limit outside looks affected her team's shooting. The Musketeers finished the game 4-for-23 on three-point attempts.
''Give Louisville credit. They came out from the tip and they mixed it up defensively on us and caused some problems for us offensively,'' she said.
Becky Burke scored 13 points, including hitting all three of her 3-pointers, to lead the Cardinals.
''I thought we did a very nice job of being there on the catch,'' Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. ''We tried to not give them open looks.''
Xavier scored the game's first two baskets as Gray hit a jumper with 18:30 left in the first half to make it 4-0. Louisville then kept the Musketeers scoreless for nearly 10 minutes as Warren sparked an 11-0 run with three consecutive buckets before Xavier's Sabrina Johnson added a free throw with 8:46 to play, making it 11-5.
Tyeasha Moss' 3-pointer from the left wing with 7:46 cut the Louisville lead to three but Xavier would draw no closer as the Cardinals closed the first half with a 20-4 run to lead 31-12 at halftime.
The first-half lead against the Musketeers allowed Walz to get a few of his players some surprising minutes.
''I wasn't sure what to expect today. I expected a 40-minute game, so it was nice to get a lot of players a lot of playing time,''
Louisville was again without their Big East first-team forward Monique Reid who has missed the past two games due to foot and back problems. Reid, a two-time All Big East selection, led the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding last year.
Walz said Reid participated in Sunday's morning shoot around and that he's expecting her back when Louisville faces Austin Peay at noon on Tuesday.
''She'll practice again some tomorrow and we're hoping to play her between 10 and 18 minutes on Tuesday.''
In addition to Reid's absence, Walz has been forced to rework his rotation following the loss of Tia Gibbs. The junior guard suffered a torn labrum in her right shoulder in the season opener against Missouri State and is out for the year.
Walz said more will be expected of his bench and that he's still looking to find who will replace the defensive intensity of Gibbs, who led the team last year with 95 steals.
''Now it's just a matter of who's willing to accept that, who's willing to take these extra minutes that are there and run with them,'' Walz said.
Louisville took a 31-point lead with just more than eight minutes remaining at 55-24. Xavier narrowed the margin late, finishing on a 20-7 run.
The game was a rematch of last season's NCAA tournament second game that saw the Cardinals upset No. 2 seed Xavier 85-75 to earn their third straight trip to the Sweet 16. Xavier, ranked in the top 10 all of last season, is rebuilding after losing all but Moss from last year's starting lineup.