MARTIN, Tenn. (AP)—Louisville got off to a quick start and wouldn’t let UT Martin’s talented guards get the Skyhawks back in the game.
The seventh-ranked Cardinals scored 22 of the first 28 pints and contained Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome in a 79-61 victory Monday night.
“I thought we did a very good job of guarding,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “They’re a very talented basketball team with two of the best guards we’ll face all season long. They drive the ball well, can shoot the 3, and I thought we did a really nice job of keeping them in front of us.”
Bria Smith and Shoni Schimmel each scored 16 points for Louisville. Megan Deines had 15 and Sara Hammond had 14.
Louisville never trailed UT Martin (1-5), building an early 22-6 lead and extending it to 41-22 at the half.
“The game was over in the first six minutes,” UTM coach Kevin McMillan said.
Playing a Top 10 team for the third game in a row, UT Martin’s initial rebounding deficit and poor shooting both helped contribute to the early deficit.
“The game needed to be manageable in the first half and we let it get out of our control,” McMillan said. “Hats off to our kids for coming back and making it more respectable.”
Louisville used UTM’s frequent early missed shots and turnovers to score quickly in transition.
“That’s how we like to play. We were trying to push the basketball,” Walz said. “I knew if we got into a halfcourt game, they defend very well. They clog the paint up and we were trying to push it as much as we could.”
UTM failed to make a number of open layups and jump shots in the first half, while Louisville shot 60 percent before the break and 55 percent overall.
Louisville also outrebounded UTM 40-22.
“Eventually they’re going to get sick of getting killed on the boards, and they’re going to start doing it,” McMillan said of his players. “The day they walk in here and say `We’re fixin’ to go rebound,’ we won’t have to drill anymore.”
After scoring 22 first-half points, the Skyhawks scored 21 in the first nine minutes of the second half.
McMillan had substituted smaller players, who not only shot better but interestingly rebounded better as well.
“When they get into a flow, they’re hard to stop and that’s what happened,” Walz said of UTM.
But Louisville’s lead was big enough. UTM cut the Cardinal lead to 70-59 with four minutes left but got no closer.