Schimmel leads No. 7 Louisville women past SMU

After getting challenged by SMU early, Louisville got its

offense going late in the first half and cruised to a win in the

opener of American Athletic Conference play.

Shoni Schimmel scored 18 points, Sara Hammond had 14 points and

10 rebounds for her third double-double of the season, and the

seventh-ranked Cardinals (13-1, 1-0) went on to a 71-51 win for

their sixth straight victory.

Schimmel made 4 of the team’s five 3-point shots, and Bria Smith

added 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Louisville succeeded with its goal of shutting down SMU’s key

cog on offense, Keena Mays. Mays, the Mustangs’ leading scorer

averaging 20 points a game, was held to seven and was 1 of 6 from

the three-point line.

”Our goal was to try to limit her touches as much as we could

and I thought we did an outstanding job of that,” Louisville coach

Jeff Walz said. ”She’s a very explosive player who averages about

20 a night. We didn’t want her to get scoring early and get going

and build some confidence.”

SMU coach Rhonda Rompola wasn’t surprised by Louisville’s

strategy.

”They did what we’ve been expecting every team to do leading up

to this game,” Rompola said. ”To be honest I’m really amazed

we’ve gone this long. Teams are going to trap her, double her. They

are going to face guard her. When teams do that, the rest of our

team has got to step up and help offensively.”

Akil Simpson had 14 points and Kiara Perry added 13 points and

nine rebounds for SMU (9-3, 0-1).

Simpson scored the first eight points for SMU and the Mustangs

kept it close early. Perry’s layup gave SMU a 23-21 lead with 7:59

left.

Louisville answered with a 5-0 run and continued to expand its

advantage. Schimmel sank two straight 3s late in the first half and

the Cardinals led 47-32 at halftime.

Louisville outscored SMU 16-3 to open the second half. The

Mustangs were unable to close the gap despite the Cardinals

suffering a scoring drought after that run.

The Cardinals scored eight points over the last 10 minutes of

the game.

”We scored 24 points in a half of basketball,” Walz said.

”That’s very bad for us. Our goal is to continue to win and be at

the top, but you can’t do that playing like we did there for about

25 minutes. … You can’t sit there and say `Hey, were up 30 now

with 11 minutes, now well back things off.’ You’ve got to keep

putting the pedal to the metal.”

The Mustangs missed their first 11 3-point attempts and were 1

of 18 overall from beyond the arc.

After playing its first game in a week, Louisville will travel

to Temple on Wednesday and return home to face Cincinnati on

Saturday.

Hammond said facing teams such as LSU, Oklahoma and Florida

State has helped the Cardinals prepare for their AAC

challenges.

”I think we’ve made strides throughout the season, especially

with our non-conference, how hard of a schedule it was,” said the

junior forward. ”To come out 12-1, that gives us confidence going

into our conference. We can always get better. We’re still working

on our turnovers. We’re still working on our communication on

defense.

”We’re continuing to get better. I don’t think necessarily

we’re exactly where we need to be, but we’ve made strides.”