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Cardinals roll past Oregon to claim WNIT title

Louisville, without a doubt, has the best resume in women’s college basketball after defeating two top-10 teams in seven days, handling Oregon with ease to win the Preseason WNIT.

Asia Durr

Louisville, KY — The Louisville Cardinals have defeated its second top-10 team in one week, as they knocked down No. 10 Oregon 74-61 to win the preseason WNIT.

"They beat us tonight," Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. "There's no other way to put it. They were better right from the get-go."

Louisville was dominant in the first period, outscoring Oregon, 23 - 14. The Ducks struggled with turnovers early, committing four in the first four minutes, while also going on a scoring drought. Louisville was able to capitalize on the scoring drought sprinting out to a 9-0 run and extending its lead to 13 - 5.

Asia Durr grabbed 14 of Louisville's 23 points, while Myisha Hines-Allen added another seven.

The Cardinals continued its hot streak in the second period, outscoring the Ducks, 20-13. However, Louisville did this without leading scorer, as Durr picked up her second foul in the first few minutes of the period. Durr did not re-enter for the Cardinals until there was 14 seconds remaining in the half.

"I took Asia out with eight to go in the second quarter, we're up 10 and we go into the half up 16," Coach Jeff Walz said. He added, "I took her out, we're up 10, she's got two fouls. The last thing I wanted to do was see her pick up a third. My goal was to see if I could go for two or three minutes. Well, when we started extending the lead, there was no sense to put her back in the game."

Without Durr on the court, Louisville looked to three-point specialist Sydney Zambrotta and freshman Dana Evans to make plays. Neither disappointed. Zambrotta knocked down a crucial triple to put Louisville up 13 with 6:15 remaining in the half, while Evans added six points.

Oregon was unable to catch up to Louisville. In the first half, the Ducks committed 10 fouls, sending the Cardinals to the charity stripe to go 9-of-10. Oregon also struggled to hold on to the ball. Louisville converted 14 Oregon turnovers into 14 points.

A huge defeat for the Ducks was how well the Cardinals kept Sabrina Ionescu from scoring. Ionescu, Oregon's leading scorer with 20 points per game, was 0-of-4 from the field with two fouls and three turnovers in the first half. Ionescu was essentially rendered useless for the Ducks, limiting the Oregon offense.

"It's a team effort," Myisha Hines-Allen said of Louisville's plan to shut out Ionescu. "Jaz [Jazmine Jones] did a phenomenal job with [Ionescu]. That was her assignment, try to limit her shots and try to disrupt everything she would try to do."

At the half, the Cardinals held a 16 point advantage, 43 - 27.

Ruthy Hebard led the Ducks in the third period, grabbing six crucial points. Behind Hebard and Maite Cazorla, the Ducks were able to cut the Cardinals' lead to 11 points. Unfortunately, Louisville's offensive hits kept coming. as Jazmine Jones added eight points for the Cardinals

Oregon tightened up, only turning the ball over four times, while committing just two fouls in the third period. The Ducks fought to mount a comeback, but could not erase the first half deficit.

Despite Louisville's strong lead, the Ducks outscored the Cardinals 19-18 in the third quarter. However, Louisville still held a 15 point advantage heading into the final period.

Ionescu finally showed up for the Ducks in the final 10 minutes. She knocked down eight points, including one triple. But by that point, the damage had already been done.

Nothing could stop the Cardinals from grabbing its third top-25 win and second top-10 win in a week. Not Oregon's improvement offensively and defensively. Not Ionescu heating up. Nothing.

This Louisville team trailed by three points a few minutes into the matchup. But, once the Cardinals took the lead, they never looked back. At one point, Louisville held an 18 point advantage on Oregon.

The Cardinals, behind perhaps the best resume in women's college basketball right now, knocked out its third top-25 opponent and secured their place as preseason WNIT champions.

Top Scorers:

Louisville had three players notch double-figures: Asia Durr paced the Cardinals with a game-high 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting. WNIT Tournament MVP Myisha Hines-Allen earned her third double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Hines-Allen also knocked down a three-pointer for the Cardinals, further proving she can do it all on the court.

Rounding out the top scorers for Louisville is Sam Fuehring, who added 10 points and four rebounds.

For Oregon, Ruthy Hebard led with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Maite Cazorla added 13 points. Mallory McGwire put up 11 points and seven boards. While Satou Sabally notched 10 points and four rebounds.

Tournament Honors: Ruthy Hebard, Sabrina Ionescu, Asia Durr and Myisha Hines-Allen were named to the Preseason WNIT All-Tournament Team. Hines-Allen was voted the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

Next Up:

The No. 5 Louisville Cardinals go a few days without a game as the team enjoys Thanksgiving. Louisville returns to the KFC Yum! Center on Friday, November 24th at 1 PM EST to face Murray State.

The No. 10 Oregon Ducks fly back home to take on Eastern Washington on November 21st at 6 PM PST.