No Durr, no problem for No. 4 Louisville in win over Pitt
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Even without one of the top players in the country, No. 4 Louisville had little problem dispatching an overmatched foe.
Dana Evans scored 16 points to guide the short-handed Cardinals to a 70-42 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday. Evans got a start in place of Asia Durr, who was rested by coach Jeff Walz in preparation for Thursday’s marquee nonconference home game against No. 3 Connecticut.
“Asia’s been playing a ton of minutes,” Walz said. “It’s just her knee was a little sore.”
While the conference’s second-leading scorer dressed and could have played if needed, the Cardinals (19-1, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) went on an 18-2 first quarter run that put the game away early.
The Panthers (9-12, 0-7) made their first shot 51 seconds into the game to take the initial lead. However, Pitt then proceeded to miss its next 16 shots. By the time Kauai Bradley hit a 3-pointer for the Panthers with 3:36 left in the first half, Louisville held a 39-9 lead.
One thing that helped Louisville take command early was rebounding. Pitt shot just 3 of 21 from the field in the first half, but the Panthers only got two offensive boards off those misses.
“We talked (on defense). We switched screens,” said Evans, a 5-foot-6 sophomore who tied her career best with seven rebounds. “We pushed each other through, and we limited them to one shot.”
Despite shooting just 41.7 percent in the second half and committing 12 of its 18 turnovers, Louisville’s lead never slipped below 20 after halftime.
Still, Walz made mass substitutions throughout the second half hoping to find a combination that worked and lamented the way the Cardinals finished.
“We’re going to have to break down some film and get them to understand if you want to be great, you can’t play to the scoreboard. You got to play for 40 minutes,” he said.
Kylee Shook added 12 points for the Cardinals, who had nine players score.
Kyla Nelson’s 12 points led the Panthers, who finished shooting just 28.3 percent. Bradley added 11.
Despite positing two wins by more than 20 points each this week, the Cardinals may not rise in the poll. Even with top-ranked Notre Dame falling on Sunday, the Fighting Irish beat Louisville earlier this month. A win over UConn would bolster the Cardinals’ case for the No. 1 spot.
Pittsburgh: It’s been a rough start to conference play for coach Lance White’s team, which has lost seven straight. The Panthers, who last won an ACC game on Feb. 1, 2018, have played four ranked teams in that stretch and lost by a combined 145 points. The schedule gets a little easier as four of Pitt’s next five foes are at or under .500 in the league.
“Our January was brutal,” the first-year coach said. “With our team, we’re not ready for that play yet. Even in February has some moments still, but again, I think it’s teams we can compete with. But we have to play much better.”
Louisville: The Cardinals continued a dominating stretch of defensive play as they held an opponent to fewer than 50 points for the fifth straight game. That’s the first time Louisville, which started play in 1975-76, has had such a streak. Without Durr, the offense did not run as smoothly, but the subpar effort was more than enough against the lowest-scoring team in the ACC.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers return home to face Virginia Tech on Thursday night as both teams seek their first ACC win.
Louisville: The Cardinals host Connecticut in a nationally televised contest Thursday night.