By Derek DeBurger
No. 22 Louisville beat down the North Carolina A&T Aggies in a game that got chippy late.
The game started a little tight with both teams shooting the ball very well in the first three minutes, but then Louisville turned on the jets taking the score from 9-7 with 7:24 left in the first quarter to 29-13 at the end.
The second quarter was more of the same; the Cards outscored the Aggies 25-8 to go into the half with a 54-21 lead. Senior Merissah Russell had a good first half, hitting two of her three three-pointers in the first on her way to an 11-point performance.
The defensive performance from the team held up in the second half, but the Aggies started to up their intensity. The Cards shot just 5-of-20 from the field in the third quarter, but the most notable event was a technical foul called against A&T that resulted in Kiki Jefferson getting hurt. Louisville had some chippiness of their own and an Aggie player got hurt, leaving the game.
The heat of the game came to a peak when early in the fourth quarter, Eylia Love was thrown to the ground by Laila Acox, the same player who received a technical foul earlier in the game. The play was reviewed for a possible ejection, but the refs didn’t elevate the call beyond a common foul. From there the two teams would cool down, and the Cards would cruise to a victory.
The final score was 80-40, Louisville.
Dominant on all fronts
Louisville put together a dominant defensive performance, forcing 31 turnovers with 16 of them being steals. The Cards also flexed their size with six blocks and a 45-to-23 rebounding advantage that includes a 23-to-5 advantage on offensive rebounds. Louisville’s work on the offensive boards helped them score 25 second-chance points.
Louisville looked very effective against the zone defense of A&T, moving the ball well and finishing the game with 21 assists as a team. The Cards did struggle again to prevent turnovers of their own, committing 17 of their own. At this point, you just have to accept that it’s a part of who this team is.
Jayda Curry looked great coming off the bench with game-highs of 12 points and five assists. She has truly embraced her new role off the bench and has quickly become the leader of the second unit. It’s exactly that type of selflessness that keeps a team together and gives them the ability to beat teams that are superior in talent to them.
Louisville advances to 8-1 on the year, with a matchup against hated rival Kentucky up next.