The 9th-ranked Louisville Cardinals kicked off the 2019 – 2020 season with a spectacular victory over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in a 75 – 56 decision.
One major takeaway is the depth of the Cardinals. Louisville had four players record double-digit scoring and six players with more than 5 points. The Cardinals had eight players record at least 2-points.
Kylee Shook, a senior who averaged 7.1 points per game last season, grabbed two quick fouls early. She played a total of 12 minutes and went 1-for-6 from the field, finishing with only 2 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks.
“I thought Kylee picking up those two quick fouls were uncharacteristic of her. She plays two minutes in the first half and that’s something that we need more from her. I think she allowed those two fouls to get into her head and she really struggled tonight.” Head coach Jeff Walz said.
Louisville also didn’t see significant production from Yacine Diop. The graduate transfer picked up 4 rebounds and 2 blocks to go along with 2 points in 15 minutes played. Diop is coming off of an ACL injury so she is sure to become more of a factor as the season progresses.
The Cardinals also didn’t play Mykasa Robinson. Robinson was a huge part of Louisville’s defense last season, earning her the title of, “sparkplug.” Head coach Jeff Walz waid Robinson would return against Murray State.
For a team with a significant amount of newcomers, the Cardinals looked relatively poised and focused in the first game back.
Louisville shot 49% from the field, 47% from beyond the arc. The Cardinals had 22 assists on 21 made field goals, and outrebounded the Hilltoppers, 40 – 37.
The defense stifled Western Kentucky in the first frame, limiting the Toppers to 28% shooting from the field and 13 points. On the game, Western Kentucky was held to 33% shooting.
Louisville cruised to a 24 point victory. The Cardinals were led by veterans Dana Evans and Bionca Dunham, as well as a pair of newcomers, Elizabeth Balogun and Elizabeth Dixon.
Dana Evans was relatively quiet in the first half, going 1-for-5 from the field. She entered the locker room with only 2 points and 2 assists, despite playing nearly 16 minutes.
However, the junior guard lit it up in the second half. Jazmine Jones found Evans on the perimeter for a 3-pointer to kick off the third frame. Evans finished the match with 19 points on 50% shooting. She knocked down three 3-pointers and went 2-for-3 from the charity stripe.
The guard may have lead the team in scoring, but she was less than impressed with her performance.
“I didn’t do good today as a point guard. I didn’t lead my team as good as I should have,” Evans said. “Four turnovers as a point guard is unacceptable.”
In their first outing as Cardinals, Elizabeth Balogun and Liz Dixon played key roles in the win. Balogun racked up 15 points on 5 made 3 pointers. She added 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Dixon notched a double-double with 10 points and 13 boards. The sophomore forward dominated the offensive glass, pulling down a team-high 7 of Louisville’s 16 offensive rebounds. The Cardinals racked up 14 second-chance points.
Norika Konno was a fantastic force off the bench. The freshman, who smiles just as much as she scores, picked up 9 points and 2 assists. Konno played 26 minutes in her first appearance. Look for the guard to continue getting significant minutes as the season progresses.
“She’s a really good player and a great person, period,” Evans said of Konno. “I think playing with her is really fun. She finds people and she can knock down open shots, as well. She’s good on defense, too. She’s always on the help-side defense, she can rebound. She can do a lot of good things for us.”
Keeping Up with the Jones
Nearly notching a triple-double, Jazmine Jones dominated the court for the Cardinals. She picked up 8 points on 50% shooting, 8 rebounds and 10 assists. Jones also recorded 2 steals.
Jones’ ability to spread the floor was crucial for the Cardinals in this matchup.
The senior looked noticeably different from last season. She hit the floor with the same high-energy and it translated into her game.
“Jaz is our all around player.” Evans said. “When she gets the ball on the break, she can just go, which makes our team just go.”
Breaking it Down
Dana Evans: 19 points (7-of-14 FG; 3-of-6 3PT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 4 turnovers
Elizabeth Balogun: 15 points (5-of-6 FG; 5-of-6 3PT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers
Liz Dixon: 10 points (5-of-9 FG), 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers
Bionca Dunham: 10 points (5-of-7 FG), 3 rebounds, 1 steal
Norika Konno: 9 points (3-of-8 FG; 3-of-4 FT), 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 turnovers
Jazmine Jones: 8 points (4-of-8 FG), 8 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover
Yacine Diop: 2 points (1-of-3 FG), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks
Kylee Shook: 2 points (1-of-6 FG), 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 1 turnover
Sherry Porter: 15 points (6-of-16 FG; 2-6 3PT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 6 turnovers
Dee Givens: 13 points (4-of-10 FG; 3-of-6 3PT), 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal, 3 turnovers
Whitney Creech: 10 points (3-of-8 FG, 4-of-6 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers
The Cardinals remain at home to face Murray State on Friday, November 8th, 2019 at 7PM.