By Derek DeBurger
No. 20 Louisville beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs 81-70 to take home the trophy from the Betty Chancellor Classic on Sunday.
The game got off to a tumultuous start with over ten fouls called against Louisville in the first quarter alone, including a technical foul on head coach Jeff Walz. Despite the massive discrepancy in fouls and free throw attempts, the Cards only held a two-point deficit at the end of the first quarter.
In quarters two through four, the Cards had the advantage in fouls called, finishing with five more fouls than Gonzaga. Without the burden of a loose whistle, the Cards aggressive pressure forced turnovers and tough shots. At the half, the Cards held an 11-point lead, 47-36.
The third quarter tightened up, with the Bulldogs coming out of the half with a press of their own. They played aggressive defense and passed to get wide-open looks beyond the arc.
After the contest got a little blurrier, Louisville cleared up the picture with a 20-6 run to start the fourth quarter. From there the Cards never looked back, and cruised to a victory.
It could’ve been much uglier had the fouls been a little more evenly distributed in the first quarter. I don’t mean to keep harping, because Louisville definitely did commit a lot of fouls in the first, but it was not called evenly to start the game.
Louisville did commit 16 turnovers, but some of them were offensive fouls so it’s hard to factor this performance into what the Cards have been doing this season.
The Cards also did an excellent job scoring, shooting 58.6% from the field. This was spearheaded by monster performances from Nina Rickards and Kiki Jefferson. Rickards had 16 points off of eight-for-eight shooting, and Jefferson led the team in points, rebounds, and assists with 21, four, and five respectively.
After two less than stellar showing in Texas, the Cards finished strong to close out the road trip.
Louisville is now 6-1 on the season.