Louisville, KY -- The eighth-ranked Cardinals fell to the California Golden Bears in the season opener, 75-71.
The Cardinals opened the season in front of 16,524 fans, the fifth-largest crowd in school history. However, the sea of red was not enough to lift the Cardinals to victory.
Out of the gate, the Louisville women struggled against the height of the Golden Bears. The Bears held the Cardinals to 31.6% shooting from the field, as the Cardinals struggled to penetrate the zone defense.
"They are very long. They are extremely long. Do a great job getting the passing lanes." Coach Jeff Walz said of the California Bears. "We were picking it up one dribble too early in the first half. We weren't creating that passing angle."
Sophomore Mariya Moore led the Cardinals in the first period with six points off of two three-point shots in the first two minutes.
Freshman Erin DeGrate used her height to her advantage against a big Bears team. DeGrate had a great block and rebound, allowing sophomore Arica Carter to tie the game at 14 as the first period came to an end.
The first period saw three ties and five lead changes as the Cardinals and the Bears battled for the lead.
Heading into the second period tied, the Bears quickly took control fueled by two jumpers from freshman Kristine Anigwe and a three-point shot from junior Courtney Range. The Bears remained in control in the second period, outscoring the Cardinals 21-13.
The second period saw highly touted freshman Asia Durr's first points. Durr put up two jumpers and one three-point shot in her debut as a Cardinal. Durr led the Cardinals with 7 points at the end of the second period.
The Cardinals trailed the Golden Bears at the half, 35-27.
The third quarter saw an energized Cardinals team.
The Golden Bears struck first in the third quarter on a layup by Anigwe. But Mariya Moore put up a crucial three-point shot to bring the Cardinals within seven points and spark a 9-0 run.
Moore led the Cardinals in the third period with 11 points and two rebounds. However, it was junior Briahanna Jackson who stole the show with a block on 6-foot-4 freshman Kristine Anigwe. Jackson boasted four steals in the third allowing the Cardinals to capitalize and put up 9 points on turnovers.
Louisville outscored the Bears in the third, 19-11, going into the fourth tied at 46.
The fourth period was the Briahanna Jackson show. Jackson shot 4-6 from the field, 2-2 from three, putting up 11 points.
But Jackson's athleticism and energy was not enough to bring the Cardinals back.
"I think Briahanna Jackson really stepped up." Coach Walz told the media in his post-game press conference.
California shot 66.7% from the field, scoring 29 points to Louisville's 25. The Bears were led by Range, who had 10 points and four rebounds.
Despite the loss, the Cardinals showed growth on defense, forcing 27 turnovers. However, the Cardinals could not capitalize on many of the steals.
"If we can get steals, that's wonderful." Coach Walz told the media, "But if you can't convert them, who cares. I really thought that was our Achilles heel tonight."