By Sam Draut–
The No. 11 University of Louisville women’s basketball team defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers 78-45 on Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center. The 20-4 Cardinals were led to their sixth straight by junior guard Shoni Schimmel who finished with 22 points.
Freshman guard Megan Deines finished with 17 points. Her boost off the bench allowed the Cardinals to blow through the 9-14 Panthers.
“She can be a threat to score, and that’s what she has to be because that gives us one more player who can step out and shoot the ball from the three pointer line, and then it opens up everything for our inside game,” head coach Jeff Walz said.
The inside game was powered by forwards Antonita Slaughter and Sara Hammond, each finishing with 10 points.
Sophomore guard Bria Smith contributed with 11 points and six rebounds, as she continues to see time at the point guard position.
“Practicing it more is getting me more comfortable for what I have to do and running the point position more,” said Smith. “I still run the two position a lot. Just being able to get into a position where I can help the team is a good thing.”
The six game winning-streak has blossomed with Smith’s move to the point guard position and better ball control. The Cardinals only turned the ball over 11 times to their 18 assists against Pittsburgh.
“We used to turn it over a lot, so for us to narrow it down is great for us because it helps us get up more shots,” Schimmel said.
“But overall, it’s our fifth or sixth consecutive game with more assists than turnovers, and that’s never happened since I’ve been here,” Walz said.
The week layoff between games aided the banged up Cardinals, who still only dressed and played nine, with four former starters sitting.
“For us to have nine healthy is good for us because it gets people in,” said Schimmel. “The good thing about having subs on the bench is they can come in and play like they’re another starting five.”
The win marks a bit of history, as this is the third fastest Louisville team to reach 20 wins, completed in just 24 games, but the 20 win mark doesn’t give Walz a reason to rest easy.
“We talked to our players about it before the game; we had the opportunity to be 19-5 or 20-4,” Walz said.“ You have to get to 21 or 22 to feel good about things. Right now at 8-2, sure I’m thrilled about it.”
Photos: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal