No. 4 Louisville overcomes slow start to beat Clemson 65-46
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — In its final tune-up before a big non-conference game against top-ranked UConn, No. 4 Louisville looked shaky against Clemson.
Asia Durr scored 15 points to lead the Cardinals to a 65-46 win over the Tigers on Wednesday night.
The Cardinals (25-1, 11-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) held the Tigers without a field goal for the final 8:36 of the first half. However, even with that Clemson (11-14, 1-11) still managed to take a 19-18 lead with 4:41 left in the second quarter after Alexis Carter sank two free throws.
Arica Carter responded with a jumper on Louisville’s ensuing possession to give the Cardinals the lead for good. That shot spurred a 14-2 run to end the half.
Louisville had its own woes on offense as it went more than five minutes in the third quarter without a basket. Still, the Cardinals managed to build the lead to as much as 22 late in the fourth quarter.
Cardinals coach Jeff Walz downplayed, to an extent, the upcoming game against Connecticut, noting the team’s goal is to win its first ACC championship. However, Sam Fuehring, who scored 14 points, admitted she and her teammates may have been looking ahead.
“This game, I don’t know what it was,” Fuehring said. “If we were looking ahead, we would still be playing our best. But today, I don’t know what it was.”
The Cardinals got a scare late as Durr was knocked down on a foul by Aliyah Collier with 4:42 left. She eventually walked off the floor and off the court, but she did return to the bench a short time later.
Walz said after the game that Durr, a four-time ACC player of the week and a leading candidate for the Wooden Award, got hit in the nose. Walz said his junior guard told him she felt sore but fine.
Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook added 10 points for Louisville, with Shook coming off the bench to add 10 rebounds.
Kobi Thornton scored 13 points to lead Clemson, which has lost six straight.
Clemson: For most of the game, the Tigers -- whose first 10 conference losses came by an average of 24 points -- played with an energy lacking from the Cardinals. However, that effort could not compensate for an offense that shot just 35.6 percent and committed 17 turnovers.
“They played their hearts out,” Tigers coach Audra Smith said. “I thought they played hard. I thought they competed. They did everything I asked them to do to the best of their ability, and that’s all I ask.”
Louisville: The Cardinals started off lackadaisical against an overmatched foe. Eventually, though, they did put the conference’s cellar dwellers away and now can get ready for the Huskies on Monday.
Louisville, which won its fifth straight, shot 44 percent and had just 10 turnovers, but Walz bemoaned his team’s play against the Tigers zone.
“We just didn’t have much movement,” Walz said. “We’d throw it to somebody and just stand, and you can’t do that if you want to be good.”
HE SAID IT
“One timeout I had to make Asia Durr introduce herself to her teammates, because we went five straight possessions and never threw her the ball,” Walz on Durr, who entered Wednesday averaging an ACC second-best 20 points per game.
The Cardinals did not look impressive in their victory, but their overall record and wins against such high-profile teams as Ohio State, Oregon and Notre Dame should be enough for pollsters to keep them in the top four when the next poll comes out Monday.
Clemson: The Tigers return home to face No. 19 Duke on Sunday. It’s the second of three straight games against ranked foes for Clemson.
Louisville: The Cardinals go out of the ACC for the last time in the regular season and hope to end UConn’s 74-game home winning streak on Monday night.