EVANS, VAN LITH WITH 20 POINTS IN LOUISVILLE WIN
In a return of former Cardinal assistant and now EKU head coach Samantha Williams, the University of Louisville women's basketball team also returned to the KFC YUM Center (after being away for almost eight months) and it was a joyous reunion for Jeff Walz's squad as they handled the visiting EKU Colonels by 43 points in a 101-58 win.
There is a chemistry developing between guards Dana Evans and Hailey Van Lith and it was on display yesterday afternoon , as the two had 20 points each. Van Lith also had 11 rebounds and Evans added seven assists for the Caards in their second game of the season . Two other reached double figure scoring -- Olivia Cochran contributed 15 points and "E" (Elizabeth Balogun) totaled 12.
If EKU head coach Samantha Williams game plan involved "zoning up" on the Cards to make they try and beat her squad from the outside, she had to witness Louisville making 14 threes (from five different players) in the 40 minutes of action. Van Lith and Balogun accounted for nine of the beyond the arc makes -- and when the Cards weren't bombing the lights out from the deep, they were forcing EKU into 20 turnovers and creating 13 steals.
If Louisville WBB choSe to adopt the old Tom Cruise (from the movie Top Gun) phrase of "I feel the need for speed" you could hardly blame them. The team was relentless in pushing the ball down the court against EKU to get 44 points-in-the-paint and using a "team rebounding" strategy by hustling for 58 rebounds (compared to EKU's 29).
And it was a variety of player combinations getting it done for UofL. All 11 who dressed for the game saw at least 12 minutes and no one saw more than 27 (Van Lith)..
The Cards started the contest with Evans, Van Lith, Ahlana Smith, Cochran and Balogun on the court for the second straight game and scored first with a Van Lith three off a Evans feed just 54 seconds into the contest and jumped out to a 5-0 lead. EKU was playing with a lot of intensity, though, and limited Louisville to just 17 first quarter points (after allowing IU to score 34 first-quarter points in their season opener.) In all fairness, Louisville played 10 players in the first 10 minutes and were just starting to jell.
The production really took off in the second quarter. UofL went on a 12-0 run to begin the second quarter. Threes from Balogun and Van Lith keyed the run and Louisville stayed hot -- racing out to a 35-14 lead with 5:14 left in the first half. They led 42-20 with 1:35 left in the quarter, off a Liz Dixon score in the paint, and took a 43-26 lead into the half time locker room. All 11 Cardinals had seen at least seven minutes in the first half and all 11 had scored, Van Lith (11) and Evans (10) were already in double figures. Louisville had upped their shooting percentage to 42%
The domination continued in the third quarter. Smith began the scoring in the second half with a three and built the lead to 28 points midway through the third quarter at 56-28 after a pair of successful Cochran free throws. EKU looked tired and Merissah Russell sparked UofL the rest of the quarter with a couple of steals and baskets to build the Cards lead to 68-39 going into the fourth quarter,
The foot stayed on the accelerator for Walz squad in the fourth quarter. A Van Lith three started the UofL scoring in the final period. Interesting stat: Louisville's first points in each quarter came from threes. The Cards steadily built upon the lead and Evans got the crowd very fired up when she sank back-to-back threes with 5:28 to play to set the tally at 87-49. A Balogun layup pushed the margin to 40 after a EKU timeout and the teams pretty much traded baskets the rest of the way...the Cards reached their biggest lead of the game at 99-54 after a Norika Konno layup in the paint. Dixon put Louisville over the century mark with a second to go and the Cards took the "W" with the 101-58 final.
Louisville shot 38-83 from the floor for 45.8% and made 14 of their 36 three-point attempts (38.9%). They held EKU to 33.9% (19-56) from the floor and the Colonels were just 6-23 from beyond the arc for 26.1%.
Besides the four Cardinal double figure scorers, Ahlana Smith had nine points, Dixon and Konno ended with six points each (Dixon with eight rebounds), Nyah Green finished with five points, Russell with four and Myjasa Robinson and Ramani Parker two points each.
THE FRED REPORT
(Fred Rogers would have approved. It WAS a beautiful day in the neighborhood for Cardinal hoops Sunday ! )
FREE THROWS -- UofL went 11-15 from the line for 73.3%. Cochran led the way for the second straight game with 5-6 shooting efficiency. Our Fred standards for a capital letter are 70% or better, so we'll grant a CAPITAL "F" here for charity stripe success.
REBOUNDING -- I'm really beginning to like this "rebounding by committee" concept the Cards are employing. It was good for a 58-29 advantage over the Colonels. We've already mentioned Van Lith's 11 and Cochran's eight...but another of the Cards "almost attack Yorkies" -- the 5'7"" Mykasa Robinson had seven grabs in 20 minutes. I'll throw the CAPITAL "R" letter up in the air here and watch "Kasa" race to retrieve it.
EFFICIENCY/EXECUTION -- The Cards had just 13 turnovers and I'll take that in the second game of the year. No one fouled out, either. 23 assists on 38 made shots isn't pretty impressive as well. The Cards dominated the points-in-the-paint 44-24. High speed on the court usually has high risk/reward possibilities, but, the Cards didn't miss too many opportunities to create and score and it wasn't sloppy at all. I'll gladly offer a CAPITAL "E" for the effort Sunday.
DEFENSE -- Louisville forced 20 turnovers, only four fast break points, created 13 steals and allowed just 33.9% shooting. 23 points scored off those turnovers as well. I could go on-and-on about the defensive effort, but. OOPS!! Balogun just stole any further accolades from me and yelled "Give us a CAPITAL "D", Paulie" on her way to the basket....so that's what I'll do.
FINAL FRED REPORT: F-R-E-D
All in all, this was a feel good, easy-to-watch, complimenting and convincing win for the Cards. Let's celebrate them while they're still able to be obtained and relish each one. They're "getting in some, at the YUM" and let's hope that continues...given the pandemic is not showing any sign of slowing down.
(PHOTOS FROM JARED ANDERSON. SUPERB WORK AS ALWAYS!)