No. 3 Louisville earns share of ACC title with win over Pitt
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Louisville used its stout defense to secure at least a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the second consecutive season.
Asia Durr scored 17 points, and the third-ranked Cardinals shut down Pittsburgh for a 67-40 victory on Sunday.
Jazmine Jones added 12 points for Louisville (27-2, 14-2), which earned its fourth straight victory. Sam Fuehring had 10 points and six rebounds.
The Cardinals held the Panthers to 32.7 shooting from the field. They also forced 25 Pittsburgh turnovers.
“We got some great shots in the first half, the ball just didn’t go in,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “Instead of getting emotional because we missed shots, we continued to defend. That’s what’s really exciting to me. … You’ve got to find a way to win some games when the ball’s not going in.”
Louisville pulled away from Pitt with a big second quarter. The Cardinals outscored the Panthers 17-5 in the period for a 32-18 lead at the break.
With Pitt’s zone defense focused on Durr, who entered averaging 21.6 points per game, Jones went 6 for 9 from the floor.
“I was just being aggressive,” Jones said. “After we figured out that the 3-point shot wasn’t going in, we started getting layups, getting post touches and slicing to the basket.”
The Cardinals tied No. 4 Notre Dame for the top spot in the conference. They lost 82-68 to the Fighting Irish on Jan. 10 in South Bend, but the schools could be headed for a rematch in the conference tournament.
Pitt got 11 points from senior guard Cassidy Walsh, who was 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
The Panthers (11-19, 2-14) were outrebounded 42-29, continuing their season-long problems on the interior. The Cardinals finished with 21 offensive rebounds.
“The second chances are what hurt us more than anything else,” Pitt coach Lance White said. “I think we limited their first-chance attempts to a really low percentage.”
Louisville: Though the Cardinals have made eight straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament, Louisville’s success in the ACC over the last two seasons is unprecedented for the school.
The Cardinals won at least a share of the conference championship in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history. Louisville previously won regular-season titles in 1992, 1997, 1999 and 2001 in the Metro Conference and Conference USA.
Louisville seniors Arica Carter, Durr and Fuehring won their 118th game, tying 2018 graduate Myisha Hines-Allen for the most in program history.
“For us, it’s a huge accomplishment,” Walz said. “It’s the toughest league in women’s basketball, there’s no question about it. To be able to get through the grind and finish 14-2, it speaks volumes about these young women.”
Pitt: The first season for White at Pitt ended with the same record in conference play as the Panthers had a season ago. But Walsh, playing her final game at Petersen Events Center, said the new coaching staff has the team in a better place.
“Coach White and his staff, the energy they have brought every single game, every single day in practice, no matter the time of day, it’s been so consistent,” she said. “Just the energy has been phenomenal and no matter if we’re down 20 or down 40 or up five, Coach has made us be consistent with a great mindset.”
The ACC tournament starts Wednesday in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Cardinals are the No. 2 seed and will play their first game on Friday after earning a double bye. Pitt is the No. 14 seed and will play No. 11 Duke on Wednesday night.