CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Dana Evans and No. 4 Louisville knew they hadn’t played their game in the first half at Virginia.
The Cardinals heard about it at halftime, then got back to doing what they do best in a 71-49 victory Thursday night.
“I think our tempo was much better” after halftime, Evans said after leading Louisville with 13 points. “We rebounded the ball a lot better and we just pushed it up the floor and I think our defense turned into easy transition points.”
The Cardinals forced 18 turnovers and enjoyed a 20-2 advantage in points off takeaways and a 12-2 edge on fast break points.
“We got easy transition points instead of running sets,” Evans said
The Cardinals (24-2, 11-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) took command with a 16-0 run spanning halftime and bounced back from a loss in their previous game against No. 14 Miami on Sunday. Coach Jeff Walz was pleased with how his team came out after halftime.
“We did not shoot the ball very well and we did not do a great job of trying to give effort to get some rebounds” in the first half, he said, noting that Virginia outrebounded his team 23-11 over the first 20 minutes. “We got emotional and finally, once we calmed down, we started to do some things defensively like we had talked about.”
Asia Durr added 12 points, Sam Fuehring 11 and Bionca Dunham and Kylee Shook had 10 each for the Cardinals.
Jocelyn Willoughby had 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead Virginia (10-16, 4-9) and Lisa Jablonowski had 13. The Cavaliers led 28-25 at halftime, but Louisville scored the first 12 points after halftime to open a 37-28 lead. They wound up outscoring the Cavaliers 46-21 in the second half.
“Against a team like Louisville, the No. 4 team in the country, you have to be almost perfect,” first-year Virginia coach Tina Thompson said. “In the first half, we were close, but it’s a 40-minute game.”
Virginia was seeking its first victory against a ranked team since it beat No. 4 Florida State 60-51 on Feb. 16, 2017.
Louisville: The Cardinals arrived averaging 79.2 points and having topped 100 three times but struggled in the first half. Leading scorer Asia Durr missed six of her seven shots and the team was 11 for 32 (34.4 percent) in the half, including just 3 for 16 from 3-point range.
After halftime, they made 16 of 28 shots (66.7 percent) and 7 of 11 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“It was pretty frustrating, but it was our doing,” Willoughby said of the Cardinals game-changing run. “It was really our turnovers that led to their transition points and that gave them the momentum to knock down some of those shots that they weren’t hitting earlier.”
Virginia: Willoughby became the third Virginia player in the past two seasons to go over 1,000 career points when she made a jumper with 1:55 left in the third period, joining Lauren Moses and Aliyah Huland El, who reached the milestone 15 days apart last season. Willoughby is the 35th 1,000-point scorer in program history. Junior Dominique Toussaint missed all four of her field goal attempts and scored just two points against the Cardinals and is 32 points away for also reaching 1,000.
Louisville: The Cardinals are at home against Boston College on Sunday.
Virginia: The Cavaliers are at home against Georgia Tech on Sunday.