The No. 4 Louisville Cardinals out scored the No. 1 Connecticut Huskies 52 – 45 in the final three periods, but the Huskies seasoned defense held the Cardinals off behind a 19 – 0 first period run. The Cardinals fell only for the second time this season, 69 – 58.
UConn got out to a fantastic start behind Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier. The Huskies brutal defense held Louisville scoreless for more than seven minutes while the offense got out on a 19 – 0 run. The Cardinals could not buy a bucket in the first period.
Louisville’s leading scorer, Asia Durr, was rendered ineffective as Connecticut’s defense focused on not letting her get a good look. Durr only needs one shot to fall to heat up, and the Huskies were not taking that chance.
With Durr and second leading scorer, Myisha Hines-Allen, neutralized, Connecticut outscored Louisville, 24 – 6, in the first period.
Samuelson was an integral part to the Huskies early boom, seemingly scoring at will and collecting 10 points.
It didn’t hurt that the Huskies converted nine early Louisville turnovers for 13 points.
Louisville could have checked out and finished as another Connecticut casualty. However, the Cardinals fought back.
Louisville found its groove and settled into the game as both Durr and Hines-Allen found their shots. The duo combined for 10 of the Cardinals 16 points in the second quarter. But, it was Sam Fuehring who kept Louisville in the game. The junior, who is having a stellar season, drove to the bucket for six points.
Each time Louisville would chip away at Connecticut’s lead, the Huskies would respond. At the half, Connecticut held a 42 – 22 advantage.
The Huskies played extremely unselfish in the first half, dishing out 12 assists on 18 made field goals. Connecticut shot 56% from the field, 33% from beyond the arc and out rebounded Louisville, 18 – 16.
The Cardinals found themselves in a situation they had not experienced this season; being down 20 at the half. With its back against the wall, Louisville came out in the second half ready to punch back.
Durr knocked down a triple, followed by a contested jump shot, to give the Cardinals five quick points. Hines-Allen added a jumper of her own. Louisville was able to put together a 7 – 0 run while holding Connecticut scoreless for nearly four minutes.
Behind 57% shooting, the momentum shifted in Louisville’s favor. Durr and Hines-Allen, who started to heat up in the second period, came out on fire in the third period. The dynamic duo combined for 14 of Louisville’s 18 points. Hines-Allen’s ability to dominate the glass on both ends of the court helped the Cardinals out rebound the Huskies, 11 – 8.
At the end of three, Louisville had cut into Connecticut’s lead, 57 – 40.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals were haunted by the 22 – 1 run from the first quarter. Louisville was able to pull together for a rally, out scoring Connecticut 26 – 27 in the final half, but the Cardinals could not climb out of the hole.
Connecticut stays perfect, while the Cardinals fall for the second time this season, in a 69 – 58 decision.