UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) Jeff Walz knew it was important for Louisville to get off to a good start against Houston.
His third-ranked Cardinals obliged, scoring 26 of the first 30 points en route to an easy 88-43 win over Houston on Saturday night in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament.
”I love the energy we had early,” Walz said. ”I thought Houston played outstanding (yesterday) and we took the wind out of their sails some the way we started the game.”
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Louisville jumped all over the Cougars behind Shoni Schimmel and Sara Hammond. Schimmel got the Cardinals on the board hitting a 3-pointer, the 99th of the season for the senior which set a new school record. Schimmel broke Sara Nord’s mark.
”It’s pretty awesome to hit shots,” said Schimmel, who led the team with 15 points.
Hammond had all 11 of her points in the first eight minutes for the Cardinals (29-3).
Schimmel’s layup made it 30-6 midway through the first half. Houston (6-25) didn’t string together consecutive baskets until nearly 14 minutes were gone in the game. Marche’ Amerson’s jumper made it 30-10 with 5:42 left.
Louisville led 46-19 at the half and never looked back.
”It was like an avalanche,” Houston interim coach Wade Scott said. ”They jumped on us very early and hit some shots. A team like Louisville you can’t give them any ground or they’ll take that plus a few more feet.”
It only got worse for the Cougars. The Cardinals had a five-point play early in the second half. Antonita Slaughter hit a 3-pointer and on the play Destini Texada was called for a technical foul for throwing down a Louisville player. Schimmel hit the two free throws that made it 53-23.
Louisville extended its advantage to as many as 48 as every Cardinals player that got into the game scored. Walz was able to rest his starters for most of the second half.
”It was important to get them some rest and get the bench a lot of playing time,” Walz said. ”We’ll need everyone on our team to produce. It was the first game all year that everyone that was able to play scored. I was pleased with that.”
Second-seeded Louisville will play South Florida in the semifinals on Sunday. The Bulls beat Temple 72-44 in the last quarterfinal.
Jessieka Palmer scored 13 to lead the Cougars, who ended a rough season. Scott took over in late December as an interim after former coach Todd Buchanan resigned for personal reasons.
”It was a season filled with ups and downs,” said Palmer. ”It didn’t go the way we planned, but at same time through all the bad there was some good. All 14 of us in that locker room we became family. We all are sisters. We built lifetime bonds together this season.”
Houston had advanced to the quarterfinals with a 73-67 upset of Memphis in the opening round on Friday night.
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