By Sam Draut
Geno Auriema and UConn have had Louisville’s number. The trend continued Sunday in Storrs, Connecticut when the top ranked Huskies defeated the fourth ranked Cardinals 81-64.
UConn forward Breanna Stewart scored 24 points and added ten rebounds to help the Huskies cruise to their 31st consecutive victory.
“She’s a special player. I told our players there is no question that she is the best player in the country in my opinion. What she does is when you have breakdowns, she makes you pay for them,” U of L head coach Jeff Walz said.
Louisville (23-2), stayed competitive through the first twenty minutes, trailing 44-33 at halftime.
Tia Gibbs connected with a three pointer at the 15:36 mark in the second half, trimming the Huskie lead to 47-40, but Stewart responded with a three pointer and a layup of her own to spark a 16-5 run that put the game out of reach.
“She can make big shots in big moments that other players can’t make,” Auriema said.
Asia Taylor finished with 18 points and eight rebounds while Sara Hammond scored 11 points and pulled down six rebounds.
Shoni Schimmel struggled to find a rhythm throughout the game as UConn denied her the ball a majority of the game. Schimmel was 4 of 15 from the field and finished with nine points and six rebounds.
Collectively, Louisville couldn’t get in sync offensively, shooting just 29.4 percent in the second half.
“You have to play a perfect game. It’s an absolute battle. You’ve got to have 40 minutes of mentally tough basketball,” Walz said.
All five of UConn’s starters scored in double digits.
“Anybody can score. So they are a hard team to guard when they do what they do best, which is score,” Schimmel said.
Louisville starting point guard Bria Smith missed her second consecutive game due to tendinitis in her knees.
The Cardinals will face the Huskies again at the KFC YUM! Center on March 9. Connecticut has won the past 14 of 15 meetings against Louisville.
“I think we are going to learn a lot from each time we play them. Like tonight, we did a lot of good things, but there are some things we need to learn from,” Schimmel said. “For us, we can learn from each game which is only going to help us.”
Louisville’s next game is against Temple on Wednesday at the KFC YUM! Center.