By Daniel Rankin —

On Jan. 30, the No. 5 ranked Louisville Cardinals beat the Duke University Blue Devils in an ACC showdown. With their fifth ranked-win of the season, the Cards improve to 18-2 and 8-1 in conference play.

Sophomore guard Hailey Van Lith had another stellar performance, leading the way with 17 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Freshman guard Payton Verhulst, having earned significant minutes off the bench, backed it up with a career-high 13 points.

In the first half, the Cards dominated much of the action with an impressive shooting performance and a highly pressured defense, forcing Duke to take poor shots and turnovers. Louisville started the second half with a 20-point lead and was well-positioned to win.

However, Duke closed the gap, making it an extremely competitive and close game thanks to substantial three-point shooting in the third quarter.

After struggling during the middle part of the game, Van Lith made 8 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter, which was crucial with Duke continuing to apply pressure late in the game. Freshman guard Shayeann Day-Wilson stood out for the Blue Devils with 25 points, keeping them extremely close. However, she fouled out of the game late in the fourth.

There shouldn’t be too many negative takeaways after extending a three-game winning streak and beating a tough-ranked ACC opponent. However, the usually elite defense from the Cardinals struggled at times, allowing an uncommonly high .488 field goal percentage and over .500 3 point percentage by the Blue Devils.

“I thought we did some good things offensively in the first half,” stated Louisville Head Coach Jeff Walz, but he took issue with the officiating in the second half. In reference to the referees, Walz said, “There’s no flow to it; they make calls that have no impact on anything, both sides.”

Up next, the Cardinals, now ranked No. 4 at the time of writing, will hit the road for three games starting with the University of Miami on February 1. The next home game for the Cards will be on February 10 against the University of Virginia.

Photo by Daniel Rankin // The Louisville Cardinal