By Jeff Milby —
High expectations greet No. 9 women’s basketball in 2017 and the Cards meet them head-on in the season opener, defeating Southeast Missouri 80-40 in the Preseason WNIT. Louisville led from start to finish. Sophomore Jazmine Jones led the way in scoring with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 20 minutes. Louisville advances to the second round of Preseason WNIT, when they will play host to Toledo.
“Overall, I thought we came out with a lot of intensity,” coach Jeff Walz said. “I thought we played hard. I thought we did some good things.”
A swarming Louisville defense pressed the Redhawks into turnovers on each of their first four possessions. Southeast Missouri committed 8 turnovers before converting its first field goal, a three by Ashton Lutrull, which cut the Louisville lead to 22-5 with less than a minute to play in the first quarter.
The second quarter was more of the same for Walz’s squad. Louisville closed the second period on a 14-0 run, holding the Redhawks scoreless over the final 6:52. SEMO finished the half with more turnovers (19) than field goals attempted (17). Louisville led 42-11 at the intermission.
With the result of the game all but decided, the Cards let off in the third. SEMO was able to find footing in the game, playing the Cards to an even 15-15 quarter.
A buzzer-beating three from Dana Evans ended the game, with Louisville on top, 80-40.
Louisville continually trapped the pick-and-roll, rattling Southeast Missouri’s guards Adrianna Murphy and Tesia Thompson into turnover after turnover, especially in the first half. Louisville forced 28 turnovers in the game, with 14 coming from the Redhawks starting backcourt, resulting in 33 points.
“Our size and quickness affected them,” Walz said.
Four Cardinals scored in double-figures, with underclassmen leading the way. Along with the pace-setting sophomore Jones, Evans, a former five-star recruit freshman, finished with 11 points on 2-5 shooting and four assists, showing flashes of what made her a prized prospect. Sophomore’s Kylee Shook and Bianca Dunham chipped in 11 and 10 points respectively.
Senior Myisha Hines-Allen led the game in rebounding with 11, ending as the only player with double-figures.
“I though Myisha played hard, I thought she comepeted,” Walz said of the 6-2 senior. “She went out there, she rebounded, she went after the boards.”
ACC Preseason Player of the Year Asia Durr finished with 8 points on 3-9 from the field in 16 minutes, sitting out most of the second half.
“Asia looked a little bit slow tonight, she just didn’t look herself,” Walz said. Durr has been selected to the preseason watchlist for the Ann Myers Drysdale Award, given annually to the nation’s best shooting guard. “She was getting beat up on, and that’s part of the things that we’re talking to her about. Game in, game out, that’s what people are gonna try to do to her.”
If there was cause for Cardinal concern, it was turnovers on offense and fouling on defense. Louisville committed 19 turnovers and 22 fouls in the game.
“Those are two things we’ve got to figure out,” Walz said, of turnovers and fouls. “We’d like to score in transition, the problem is we foul so much it kills the flow of the game. So we’ve got to be able to defend without fouling.”
Louisville shot 48% on 29-60 from the field, including 8-18 from behind the three-point line, on 22 assists.
The Cardinals will next travel to Columbus, Ohio for a date with No. 5 Ohio State on Sunday, November 12. The Buckeyes trounced tenth-ranked Stanford, 85-64, on Friday night, setting up an enticing top-ten pairing with Louisville.
“You can’t simulate what (Ohio St.) can do in practice,” Walz said.
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