Louisville, KY — The Louisville Cardinals sent its seniors off with a crucial win over the Virginia Cavaliers. The Cardinals defeated the Cavaliers, 66-55, behind 24 from sophomore Asia Durr.
Louisville head coach Jeff Walz was particularly impressed with Durr’s confidence.
“It’s really been about her confidence in herself,” Coach Walz said. “You can’t be the hero, if you’re not willing to be the GOAT.”
The No. 14 Louisville Cardinals took their home floor for the last time in the regular season. The Cardinals celebrated three seniors in fifth-year transfer Taylor Johnson, Briahanna Jackson and five-year veteran Cortnee Walton.
Virginia entered the matchup looking to get above .500 in league play. The Cavaliers, 7-7 in ACC play, nearly beat the Cardinals in the previous contest on Jan. 5. The game went into overtime, but Louisville pulled out an 86-81 victory.
A big piece of Louisville’s victory in January was Mariya Moore, who racked up 23 points for the Cardinals. However, Moore did not dress for tonight’s outing.
Walz said Moore, as well as the injured senior in Jackson, were both serving a one-game suspension for violation of team rules.
“The choices you make, they affect everyone,” Walz said. “Not just them, their teammates, our fans.“
The first quarter was a power struggle for both squads as neither team connected on more than five field goals.
The Cardinals relied on Durr for most of its first period scoring. Durr was able to rack up seven of Louisville’s 11 points.
Louisville committed six turnovers in the first period, but the Cavaliers were unable to capitalize on the Cardinals’ mistakes.
“We started the game with a three from Asia,” Walz said. “I thought she passed up two or three shots the next few times down the floor. We kept telling her to hunt shots, go after them, find them.”
Louisville found its pace in the second period. The Cardinals connected on 7-of-18 from the field, including two three-pointers from Durr.
Louisville held Virginia scoreless for nearly four minutes, while the Cardinals racked up seven points, extending their lead to 10 points.
Aliyah Huland El broke the silence for the Cavaliers as she added two. But Louisville, behind Durr and Myisha Hines-Allen, put the Cardinals up 27-15 with 1:32 remaining in the half.
Breyana Mason fired off a triple for the Cavaliers, but Sam Fuehring responded with two points of her own.
At the half, the Cardinals held an 11 point advantage, 29-18.
Louisville was led by Durr in the first half, who knocked in five field goals, three of which came from beyond the arc. Durr finished the first 20 minutes with 13 points. Hines-Allen was close behind with eight points and five boards.
The Cavaliers were led by Mason’s eight points.
The Cardinals’ ability to dominate the glass was the key to its first half success. Louisville held a 23-13 advantage on the boards.
A stat Cortnee Walton was proud of, “We pride ourselves on being one of the top rebounding teams in the conference and the country.”
The Cavaliers came out of the half hot, scoring five unanswered points to cut Louisville’s lead to single digits, 29-24.
Virginia outscored Louisville 17-13 in the third period behind Mason’s eight points. The Cavaliers forced Louisville to turn the ball over four times, allowing Virginia to rack up five points off turnovers.
The Cardinals depended on Hines-Allen in the third period. Hines-Allen went 3-of-4 from the field, knocking down eight of Louisville’s 13 points.
At the end of three, the Cardinals held a seven point advantage over the Cavaliers, 42-35.
Louisville’s abysmal third period did not dampen its spirits. The Cardinals came out in the final period ready to close the game and grab a win. Durr struck first for the Cardinals, followed by a triple for Sydney Zambrotta.
But Virginia’s J’Kyra Brown responded with a three of her own.
Zambrotta fired off another shot beyond the arc for her second triple of the period.
The Cavaliers tried to mount a comeback, but Louisville’s 50% shooting from the field in the second half kept Virginia down.
Louisville notched its 16th home victory on the season with the win over Virginia.
The Cardinals dominated in two huge categories: rebounds and second chance points. Louisville held a 43-24 advantage on the glass. Led by Hines-Allen, the Cardinals were able to grab 26 defensive boards, limiting Virginia to seven offensive rebounds. Louisville was impressive with second chance points, outscoring the Cavaliers 24-6.
“I was really proud of how we battled on the boards,” Walz said. “It’s been a point of emphasis for the past 14 games. I think we have done a great job of following through with it and our kids have done a great job buying in.”
Louisville had two players in double-figures: the Cardinals were paced by Durr who racked up 24 points, including four three-pointers. Durr also had seven boards, three assists and two steals. Hines-Allen just missed a double-double as she finished the contest with 21 points and nine rebounds.
The Cardinals cap off the regular season on the road and will face Wake Forest on Sunday, February 26th.
The Cavaliers finish up at home against No. 18 North Carolina State.