|Louisville's Becky Burke, left, shoots next to Kentucky's Maegan Conwright during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/James Crisp)|
No. 10 Louisville women fall to No. 12 Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky.—Louisville coach Jeff Walz didn't think his No. 10 Cardinals had to be perfect to beat No. 12 Kentucky on Sunday. But he said they needed to rebound well, get second-chance points and not give up points off turnovers.
Louisville was out-rebounded, outscored on second chances and gave up more points off turnovers Sunday, and the Wildcats won 74-54.
The Cardinals (7-2) struggled to gain ground on the boards despite Kentucky (8-0) employing a four-guard lineup for most of the game. Louisville was ultimately out-rebounded 34-25, including a glaring 14 defensive boards to Kentucky's 15 on offense. Those 15 allowed the Wildcats 24 second-chance points to Louisville's 10.
"You can't win big games if you're not going to rebound the basketball," Walz said. "That's a mentality. You've got to have a little fight in you to go in and rebound the ball. Unfortunately, today we did not do a very good job of that and unfortunately, we haven't done a great job of that all season."
Part of Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell's game plan was to keep Cardinals sophomore Shoni Schimmel from bringing the ball up the court and initiating the offense. The Cardinals' biggest test to this point in the season prior to Sunday was an 18-point loss to No. 4 Texas A&M in which Schimmel did not play, and Mitchell said he wanted to create as close a facsimile of that game as possible.
As a result, Schimmel led the Cardinals with 17 points but was unable to take over the Cardinals' offense. She shot 7 of 18 from the floor and did not take a single free-throw attempt.
Another of Mitchell's priorities was to use his team's depth to his advantage, so he did. The Cardinals opened the game with a few quick baskets, but Kentucky answered with eight unanswered points and then subbed out all five players simultaneously.
With five fresh sets of legs running a demanding full-court defense, Kentucky went on a 15-4 run. At that point, the Wildcats led 25-10.
"That was difficult for us because they pushed the ball really quick, and trying to get back there to set up our defense was probably our problem," Schimmel said. "They pushed the ball really well and they got back there and got some wide-open shots when everyone was scrambling around, and that was tough for us."
Mitchell said he didn't quite know what to expect from his team because of its early-season schedule. Before Sunday the Wildcats had yet to play a major-conference team and outclassed their previous seven opponents by 36.4 points per game.
Meanwhile, Walz had seen his team compete against level opposition, so he was surprised to see the Cardinals struggle the way they did in each area of the game.
"We've just got to compete harder," he said. "It's just a little discouraging compared to how hard we competed at Florida State against a very talented Florida State team. Then to come up here and not compete, it's just amazing to me how many loose balls we didn't even dive after. You've got to do that in games like this. Hopefully it's a learning experience."