Defense propels No. 4 Louisville past Virginia 51-39
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — No. 4 Louisville was so good on defense it was able to overcome a lousy night on the other side of the floor.
Asia Durr had 13 points, and the Cardinals shut down Virginia for a 51-39 victory on Thursday.
Louisville (28-2, 14-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) limited Virginia to 27 percent shooting and forced 21 turnovers. The Cardinals shot just 38 percent from the field, but earned their third straight victory by stifling the Cavaliers (16-12, 9-6), who shot just 8-of-40 from the field over the final three quarters.
The Cavaliers’ turnovers led to 27 points for Louisville, which recorded 12 steals.
“We did a much better job of knowing where everybody was,” Cardinals coach Jeff Walz said. “We didn’t let them get comfortable in what they were doing.”
Lauren Moses had 10 points and nine rebounds for Virginia, which has dropped five of six. The Cavaliers grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, compared to 11 for Louisville.
Durr, who left Sunday’s win at North Carolina late in the game with a sprained ankle, started against the Cavaliers and made 5 of 17 shots, including three 3-pointers. Louisville needed them all; its point total was the lowest in a victory this season.
“It gets kind of frustrating, but you can’t let that dictate how you play,” Durr said of Louisville’s missed shots. “We had some great looks, but we’ll make sure to knock them down in Sunday’s game” against Pittsburgh.
Jazmine Jones added 10 points for the Cardinals, who won their annual Play4Kay game to benefit the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
Virginia: After shooting 5 of 9 in the first quarter, baskets were scarce for the Cavaliers. Most of their struggles were of their own doing, with Louisville frequently picking off passes inside and turning them into points. Shooting has been an issue, and the Cavaliers finished with their second-lowest percentage this season. But they outrebounded Louisville 37-33 and held them to 9-of-23 shooting after halftime.
“To have such a rough night on the offensive end, we did a good job on the defensive end,” coach Joanne Boyle said. “But you gotta make shots at some point.”
Louisville: The Cardinals offset shooting issues with strong defense that created numerous chances. Their hustle on the Cavaliers’ end keyed a 27-9 advantage in points off turnovers and forced them into some bad looks. It wasn’t pretty, but the Cardinals moved closer toward clinching at least a share of their first ACC regular-season title.
NOT THERE YET
Louisville’s last regular-season conference championship came in 2001 while in Conference USA, which makes Sunday’s opportunity to win the ACC more special. Walz just wants his team to not take Pitt for granted despite routing the Panthers 77-51 on the road last month.
Especially after their lackluster effort against Virginia.
“They’re going to come in here and grind it out and fight because that’s what they do,” Walz said of Pitt. “If our kids think they’ve won an ACC championship, then shame on us because we’ll get on Sunday and that would be a tough pill to swallow just because you think you’re going to win.”
Virginia closes the regular season Sunday at Wake Forest.
Louisville hosts Pittsburgh in its regular-season finale, seeking a season sweep of the Panthers.
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