No. 18 Louisville women upend Providence 64-48
LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Freshman Bria Smith scored 12 points and the No. 18 Louisville Cardinals defeated Providence 64-48 Wednesday night.
Becky Burke went 3 of 3 from behind the arc to add 11 points and Antonita Slaughter had 10 points. Asia Taylor had eight points and 10 rebounds in 14 minutes for Louisville (15-4, 4-2 Big East).
Alicia Cropper was the only Providence player to reach double figures, pacing the Friars (10-9, 2-4) with 14 points. Leading scorer Teya Wright managed just three points, 10 below her season average.
After trailing 26-19 at the half, Providence cut the lead to five at 30-25 on Wright's free throw with 16:53 to play, but couldn't get any closer. The Friars cut the lead to nine six times following that point, their closest margin the rest of the way.
Coming off an overtime loss Saturday at Rutgers, the Cardinals remained unbeaten in eight games at home this season. Louisville travels to No. 19 Georgetown on Sunday.
Neither Slaughter nor Taylor saw action against Rutgers.
"That's kind of the tale of our team right now, good and bad," said Louisville coach Jeff Walz, who has been forced to shuffle lineups after losing two of the team's top three returning scorers to season-ending injuries. "We're just not getting a lot of consistency from people. That's a struggle as a coach because it's trying to figure out who you're going to put in, who you're going to play."
Shoni Schimmel, Louisville's leading scorer at 13.4 points per game, hit her first field goal, a 3-pointer, with 7:50 remaining. She finished with seven points, five rebounds and five assists after scoring just five against Rutgers, her lowest total for the season.
"For her to play 39 minutes with the pressure they put on us, have three turnovers and five assists I thought was a really nice floor game for her," Walz said.
Smith said the Cardinals have worked on developing other options, especially as ball-handlers.
"She knows now that a lot of people's key goal is to stop her," Smith said of Schimmel.
Schimmel's recent downturn in production stems from opposing defenses' focus, not poor shot selection, Walz added.
"When she gets it, they're there on the catch," he said. "I didn't think she took just bad shots at all. They're just not going in. They're a lot of the same shots she took last year that went in." Schimmel finished 2 of 8 from the field Wednesday.
Providence trailed 7-6 after a Lola Wells layup at the 15:22 mark in the first half but Louisville ripped off a 16-2 run over the next 7 minutes as a 3-pointer in the right corner from Burke put the Cardinals up 23-8 with 8:18 remaining in the first half.
The Friars responded with an 11-0 run of their own, sparked by consecutive drive and lay-ins from Symone Roberts and two short jumpers from Cropper. Providence held Louisville scoreless for nearly eight minutes until Slaughter's trey with 37 seconds left gave the Cardinals their 26-19 halftime advantage.
Walz said he's concerned by his team's inability to close out an opponent.
"We had them 23-8, had them on the ropes, and then we turn the ball over seven out of our next nine possessions, I think. It's hard to score when you throw it to the other team."