The No. 3 Louisville Cardinals continue its hot streak, knocking out the No. 17 Duke Blue Devils in a 66 – 60 decision.
But, it was not an easy win for the Cardinals. Louisville fought off a rallying Duke team in the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils held the Cardinals to only 10 points in the final 10 minutes, while Duke went on to pick up 18. With less than one minute remaining, Duke only trailed by three points. However, a foul sent Sam Fuehring to the charity stripe with the game on the line. Fuehring nailed both free-throws to solidify the 17th consecutive win for the Cardinals.
Despite the team’s 17 – 0 start, Louisville’s head coach Jeff Walz was not pleased with his team’s ugly performance.
“That was an ugly, ugly ballgame defensively for us,” Coach Walz said. “We did not do a very good job of following a scouting report.”
In particular, Coach Walz was speaking to Louisville’s inability to shut out, or even cool off, Haley Gorecki. Gorecki went 8-of-8 from the field, 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and racked up 19 points in the first half.
“The frustrating thing for me a little bit, she goes left every time and shoots,” Coach Walz told the media. “That’s exactly what she did for 25 points.”
He continued,” She did a heck of a job and beat us doing what she does well.”
Gorecki was not the only offensive weapon for the Blue Devils. Leaonna Odom had no issue getting to the bucket. Odom, who is averaging 8.9 points per game, accounted for eight of Duke’s 16 first quarter points.
Duke shot 80% in the first quarter, breaking a school record for field goal percentage in a quarter. One would think shooting lights out would put a team ahead. However, at the end of the first, Louisville held a steady 26 – 16 lead.
Like the other three matches, Louisville’s offense, led by Myisha Hines-Allen and Asia Durr, proved to be too much to handle. Durr kicked off the match connecting on a jump shot and she did not slow down. The junior guard notched 14 points in the first period alone, knocking down four triples.
However, Durr went down with 7:54 remaining in the first half with what appeared to be a leg injury. She was carried off the court by a Louisville staff member. It was a scary scene at the KFC Yum! Center. But, the Cardinals did not falter.
The Blue Devils were able to put up 14 points in Durr’s absence, but the Cardinals still held a 10 point lead.
“Unfortunately, we did not capitalize on her absence,” Duke’s Lexie Brown said. “We still had the same energy, same mindset when she left.”
Luckily, Durr re-entered the game with two minutes remaining in the half.
The first half of the match was extremely competitive and compelling basketball. However, the second half did not follow suit.
“I got a text from the concession stands saying ‘hey, stop scoring so people will come buy some food,” Coach Walz said jokingly. “The first half no one wanted to leave their seats.”
He went on, “that was a heck of a first half offensively by both teams. We got stagnant.”
Louisville scored 23 points total in the second half, three points less than it scored in the first period. The Cardinals went from shooting 57% in the first half to 27% in the second.
One key factor to Louisville’s stagnant offense was Duke’s defense locating Durr on the floor and not allowing her to hit her signature sideline three-pointer.
Despite the defensive lapses, the Cardinals still managed to pull out a win.
The No. 3 Louisville Cardinals handed the No. 17 Duke Blue Devils its second consecutive loss.
But, Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie is not letting the back-to-back losses bring her team down.
“We’re going to play better and harder,” Coach McCallie said. “We’re like a freight train, we’re collecting steam from a lot of lessons.”
The Cardinals had three players notch double-figures: Asia Durr paced Louisville with 22 points and five rebounds. Myisha Hines-Allen earned a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards, while Sam Fuehring added 12 points and seven rebounds.
For the Blue Devils, two players grabbed double-digits: Haley Gorecki had a game-high 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting, while Leaonna Odom contributed 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
The No. 3 Louisville Cardinals remain at home to face the Virginia Tech Hokies on Sunday, January 7th at 2PM.