Louisville cruises past undersized Hartford 87-52
GARY B. GRAVES
Nov. 18, 2015
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The question wasn't whether Louisville could grab rebounds or score over undersized Hartford, but how assertive the Cardinals would be in making sure the ball was in their hands.
On either end of the floor, sophomore forward Chinanu Onuaku had his hand in it.
Onuaku scored a career-high 18 points, Damion Lee also scored 18 and Louisville used its size early and often against Hartford for an 87-52 victory Tuesday night.
The Cardinals (2-0) followed up their 41-point, opening-game thumping of Samford with another dominant performance on both ends against the Hawks (1-2). Louisville outscored Hartford 38-14 in the paint and controlled the boards 44-26 with Onuaku and Jaylen Johnson combining for 17 rebounds.
"That's what coach (Rick Pitino) wanted us to do, knowing that the team was small," said the 6-foot-10 Onuaku, who made 8 of 13 shots and two underhanded free throws in four attempts. "He told us that we had to crash the offensive boards and the defensive boards."
Onuaku's career scoring high came exactly a year after his previous best of 12 points against Jacksonville State.
Lee added outside shooting to help the Cardinals pull away from a tight beginning for his second straight double-figure scoring effort since transferring from Drexel. He had 14 points against Samford on Saturday.
Trey Lewis added 11 points, and Johnson had nine with eight rebounds for the Cardinals, who made 7 of 19 from 3-point range. The combined efforts helped Louisville finish 51 percent from the field after shooting 56 percent in the opener.
Just what the Cardinals expected against a team whose tallest player was 6-foot-9.
"All in all, pretty pleased," Louisville assistant coach Ralph Willard said in place of Pitino, who had an unspecified appointment.
"I think the guys did a good job of getting the ball inside, we obviously had a size advantage on them. We did a good job of recognizing that."
Pancake Thomas scored 20 points for the Hawks, who forged two ties and two lead changes early before Louisville steadily broke it open. He was Hartford's only double-digit scorer.
Hartford's prospects took a big hit seconds after halftime when scoring co-leader John Carroll (14.5 points) picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench. He didn't score in 12 minutes of play.
The Cardinals didn't let up in the second half, expanding their lead to 37 points in final 30 seconds with many of their reserves playing several minutes. Louisville's bench outscored Hartford 28-13.
"I thought in the first half we had a good performance," Hawks coach John Gallagher said, "but in the second half we missed some shots that led to run-outs for them. But you have to tip your hat to them."
The early minutes featured the only battle as Hartford tied the game twice and led 8-7 behind long-range shooting. That edge lasted just 25 seconds as Onuaku put the Cardinals back ahead with his second 3-point play and followed with another jumper to reach double digits.
The Hawks got within three but no closer as Louisville exploited its height advantage for rebounds on both ends resulting in easy baskets. The Hawks finished 14 of 43 from the field (33 percent) including 5 of 22 in the second half.
OFF AND RUNNING
The Cardinals got 11 fast- break points, with one first-half sequence standing out as Mangok Mathiang caught a perfect lob pass from a speeding Lewis for a slam dunk and a 33-20 lead that brought a big cheer from the crowd of 18,910.
Hartford: The Hawks made just 3 of 17 from 3-point range didn't score any points off seven Louisville turnovers. Hartford committed 13.
Louisville: Quentin Snider had nine points and six assists.
Hartford: Visits St. Peter's on Thursday.
Louisville: Hosts North Florida on Saturday.