Preview: Louisville Tips Off 2019-2020 Season Against Western Kentucky

 

Louisville, KY –The 9th-ranked Louisville Cardinals tip off the 2019 – 2020 season against in-state foe, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

2018 – 2019 Throwback

The Louisville Cardinals finished the 2018 – 19 season with a 32 – 4 record, bowing out in an Elite Eight heartbreaker against UConn. The loss marked the end of Asia Durr, Sam Fuehring and Arica Carter’s spectacular careers at Louisville. The trio exited the program as the most winning class in program history, amassing 123 wins in their four years.

Louisville averaged 77.9 points per game, while limiting opponents to 58.6. The Cardinals were led by Asia Durr (21.2 points), Sam Fuehring (10.8 points) and Dana Evans (10.4 points).

The Hilltoppers wrapped up the 2018 – 19 season after a loss to Ohio in the WNIT Round of 16. Western Kentucky compiled a 20 – 15 record. The Toppers graduated three seniors; Sidnee Bopp, Kayla Smith and Jae’Lisa Allens. Despite losing three seniors, the Hilltoppers return 86% of its offensive production, including its three leading scorers; Dee Givens (17.6 ppg), Raneem Elgedawy (15.4 ppg), and Alexis Brewer (11.4 ppg).

Series History

While Western Kentucky owns a 20 – 17 record against the Cardinals, Louisville has won six of the last seven matchups. The lone loss coming in a 2015 matchup in Bowling Green, in which the Cardinals were defeated in a 71 – 69 decision.

The last time Louisville and Western Kentucky played, the Cardinals came away with a 102 – 80 victory. Louisville was led by Asia Durr’s 33 points.

Key Players

Louisville currently has Dana Evans, Elizabeth Balogun, Jazmine Jones, Bionca Dunham and Elizabeth Dixon listed as probable starters.

A season ago, Evans was Louisville’s third leading scorer, while leading the team in both assists and steals. The junior guard only started five games a season ago, but she provided a spark coming off the bench. She finished 18 games with double-digit scoring, including two games in which she recorded 20+ points. Evans was named ACC Sixth Player of the Year last year and was tabbed preseason All-ACC by the Blue Ribbon Panel this season.

Jones enters the season as a veteran starter for the Cardinals. She has started every game since her sophomore season. The senior guard averaged 7.6 points, shooting 52% from the field. Jones recoded a season high 17 points in three matches last season and led the Cardinals on the glass with 12 rebounds against UConn in January.

Bionca Dunham made a tremendous leap from her sophomore to junior season. She played a crucial role in the paint for the Cardinals last season. Her ability to score under the bucket was huge for Louisville. The senior averaged 7.6 points and 4.7 boards last season. She shot 56% from the field, ranking her at sixth in the ACC in field goal percentage.

Fellow senior, Kylee Shook, will be heavily relied on by the Cardinals. In the last two seasons, Louisville has graduated Myisha Hines-Allen and Sam Fuehring, two tremendous forces in the paint. Shook stepped up her tenacity under the bucket last season, averaging 6 boards a game. The forward was crucial on defense with her shot blocking ability. Against Tennessee State, she recorded a career-high 8 blocks. Shook ranked seventh in the ACC in blocks.

Yacine Diop is back for the Cardinals after an injury sidelined her for the 2018 – 19 season. Diop played in four games last season, averaging 8.3 points and 5.7 rebounds before tearing her ACL. The graduate looks to be an essential part of Louisville’s offensive and defensive effort this season. Her veteran leadership is also a significant factor for the Cardinals.

Louisville also returns sophomore Mykasa Robinson – who was a sparkplug for the Cardinals late last season; Seygan Robins, Lindsey Duvall and Jessica Laemmle. Fans will also get the chance to see Louisville native, Molly Lockhart take the court. The redshirt freshman played for Butler High School. During her sophomore season, she helped lead Butler to a state championship.

New Faces

The Cardinals will look noticeable different this season. No Asia Durr, no Sam Fuehring, no Arica Carter. The team we grew accustomed to see taking the court is no longer. But, Louisville has added spectacular talent, in particular two sophomore transfers from Georgia Tech. Elizabeth Dixon and Elizabeth Balogun are both projected to start for Louisville against Western Kentucky. The duo started all 30 games for the Yellow Jackets a season ago.

Balogun, who was named the ACC Freshman of the Year last season, led Georgia Tech in scoring 13 times, producing six 20+ point games, two 30+ point games and 24 double-figure outings. She paced the team in scoring, averaging 14.6 points. As a freshman, she posted a double-double twice, including in the game against Louisville. She notched a career-high 35 points against North Carolina and a career-high 17 boards against Boston College.

Dixon, a 6-5 forward, was named to the All-ACC Freshman team a season ago, and was named ACC Freshman of the Week of the Week on three occasions. She led all ACC Freshmen in rebounding, grabbing 6.4 per game. The forward ranked third in scoring for the Yellow Jackets racking up 11 points per game. Dixon notched four double-doubles last season, 19 double-figure scoring games, three 20 + point games and led the team in scoring on seven occasions. She picked up a career-high 17 boards against Duke in January.

Norika Konno, a freshman from Sendai, Japan, is the long freshman this season as both Nyah Green and Ramani Parker will redshirt. Konno is a 5’10 shooting guard with an impressive international resume. The freshman helped the 2019 team earn a spot in the quarterfinals of the U19 World Cup. She notched double-figures in three of the six games, averaging 8.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists. In 2018, she helped the team to a silver medal at the U18 Women’s Asian Championships. She recording double-digits in four of five games, including a 19 point outing against China.

Louisville has three players redshirting for the 2019 – 2020 season: freshman Ramani Parker and Nyah Green and Cal transfer, Kianna Smith.

Game Notes

The Cardinals and the Hilltoppers will tip off at 7PM at the KFC Yum! Center. The match will be televised on ACCNX. You can listen to the radio broadcast on 93.1 FM.

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