Monique Reid scored 18 points, Shawnta’ Dyer and Shoni Mitchell added 14 each, and Louisville beat the Racers 105-62 Tuesday night. The Cardinals (7-1) opened the game with a 16-0 run and topped its previous season high of 86, set last Saturday at Florida A&M.
Now, it’s all about Kentucky on Sunday.
“It’s everything for us,” Louisville senior Becky Burke said of the upcoming matchup at Lexington’s Memorial Coliseum. “We’re not going to go out and get embarrassed like we did our sophomore year. This is our last time playing UK … so it’s kind of a little extra incentive. We’re going to do everything we can to get the win.”
The embarrassment Burke referenced came in the Louisville’s last trip to Lexington, a 101-67 rout by the Wildcats in 2009. Louisville was in a rebuilding year after reaching the NCAA title game the previous year. The Cardinals did get a measure of revenge last season, beating then-No. 8 Kentucky at home, 78-52.
Louisville has already faced the defending national champion, losing to then-No. 6 Texas A&M 76-58, but Burke said Kentucky’s style could present a different level of intensity.
“They’re going to pressure you, they’re going to get out and deny, they’re going to run on you,” Burke said. “And we know that. Some of the more experienced players have got to share with our freshmen this week coming up what to expect. It’s definitely something we’ve seen a little bit of it with Texas A&M but it’s a different level.”
Cardinals coach Jeff Walz said limiting turnovers would be the key to Sunday’s game.
“If we can keep it to 18-24 or 25 then we are going to have a chance to win,” he said.
Burke scored eight of Louisville’s first 10 points against Murray State, capped by a 3 from the right corner with 16:54 remaining in the half. The Cardinals scored the game’s first 16 points.
“We didn’t make any shots. When we attacked we changed every shot we took, we’d double pump. Then we weren’t able to get our defense set,” Murray State coach Rob Cross said.
Mariah Robinson scored 22 points, including 5-for-9 shooting on 3-pointers, for the Racers (2-5). Kayla Lowe added 13 points and Erica Burgess had 10.
Burke and Sara Hammond finished with 10 points each for Louisville.
Burke joined Reid in the 1,000-point club after scoring her first basket, a 3 just more than a minute into the game. Burke became just the 22nd player in school history to reach the mark and the two became only the third senior class in school history to have multiple 1,000-point scorers.
“It’s definitely an honor to follow Mo and to have two graduating seniors do it,” Burke said.
Murray State missed its first nine shots and started the game 1 for 18 from the floor before Mariah Robinson’s 3 cut the lead to 20-5 with 12:23 left in the first half. Louisville held the Racers to 17.9-percent shooting (7 of 39) in the first half.
The slow start took away what Cross said was the only approach his team had to knocking off the Cardinals.
“The only chance we had,” he said, “was to come in herr and hit about 20 3s and play fast and then get our defense set.”
Antonia Slaughter’s putback with 6:34 left to play in the first half pushed the lead to 34-7, and the Cardinals led 50-18 at halftime.
After Robinson opened the second half with her second 3, Louisville scored the next 12 points to take a 62-21 lead with 15:33 left. Robinson’s 19 points in the second half helped the Racers cut the lead to 33 with just more than four minutes remaining before Louisville finished the game on a 17-7 run.
The final margin matched Louisville’s largest lead.