The No. 5 Louisville Cardinals defeated the No. 10 Oregon Ducks in a grind-it-out battle to win the Preseason WNIT. The victory marks Louisville’s third top-25 victory and second top-10 victory in one week.
“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 4:00, 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, Durr who picked up her second foul in the first few minutes of the period. Durr did not reenter for the Cardinals until there was 14 second 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 shooter, 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. The Cardinals were able to, not only maintain the lead, but extend the lead without its best player on the floor.
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 leads Oregon with 20 points per game. However, in the first half, she was 0-of-4 from the field with two fouls and three turnovers. 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 lead to 11 points. Unfortunately, Louisville’s offensive hits kept coming. Jazmine Jones added eight points for the Cardinals
Oregon tightened up, only turning the ball over four times, while committing just two fouls.
Despite Louisville’s strong lead, the Ducks outscored the Cardinals 19-18. 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, 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. This Louisville team trailed by three-points a few minutes into the matchup, but 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 a victory in the preseason WNIT. Louisville finished the evening outscoring Oregon, 74 – 61.
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 on 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.
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.
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.