LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)—Even though she was unable to play, Antonita Slaughter did all she could to help No. 7 Louisville.
Shoni Schimmel scored 17 points, including five 3-pointers, and the Cardinals cruised to a 99-40 win over Wright State on Saturday night in their first game since Slaughter was diagnosed with a season-ending blood clot in her lung.
The senior guard, released from the hospital Friday, sat on the bench and cheered her teammates. Doctors determined Slaughter had a cardiac event when she collapsed on the bench early in Tuesday night’s victory over Missouri State.
“For our kids to be able to see her, I think that was a big boost for them,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said.
Slaughter is still undergoing tests to determine what caused her cardiac event, Walz said.
Slaughter was with the team during the pregame shootaround and returned to the dorm Friday night.
“It is definitely a sad thing that that happened,” Asia Taylor said. “We’re all going to miss her of course, but we all know the season goes on. She is there at practice and everything being her normal self. It is good to have her around.”
The Cardinals took control with a 14-4 run in the first half. Tia Gibbs, who has played an integral role off the bench this season, moved into the starting lineup in Slaughter’s absence and had five points.
Walz called it “the best all-around game” Louisville has played this year.
“We needed this game. I was not expecting this at all,” he said. “I think our kids needed it.”
Sara Hammond and Taylor added 12 points apiece for the Cardinals (9-1), who shot 56 percent from the field and held the Raiders to 23 percent.
“I thought today we took the right shots at the right time,” Walz said.
Wright State junior Kim Demmings, ranked 10th in the nation in scoring at 24 points per game, was limited to four on 2-of-15 shooting.
Tay’ler Mingo paced Wright State (7-3) with 15 points.
The Cardinals took control with a 14-4 run in the first half and finished 10 for 13 at the free throw line. Tia Gibbs, who has played an integral role off the bench this season, moved into the starting lineup in Slaughter’s absence and had five points.
Gibbs is a sixth-year senior who missed the past two seasons because of injuries.
Schimmel, who shoots 33 percent from 3-point range, hit Louisville’s first four from beyond the arc. She finished 5 of 9 on 3s.
Wright State missed its first six 3-point attempts. Ivory James ended the drought with a 3 that made it 42-10 with 6:17 left in the first half.
James finished with eight points and five rebounds.
It was a tough night for Demmings, the Horizon League player of the week. With 26 seconds left in the first half, she stole the ball and had an open fast break to the basket, but missed the layup.
Another shot by Demmings rolled around the rim and out just before the halftime buzzer.
“I think we focused on their three main players, we limited their touches and didn’t allow them to get into the paint as much,” Hammond said. ” They have a dribble drive type offense, but I think the coaches were very proud with our defense tonight.”
Wright State had 22 turnovers, well above its average of 11.
“We stopped reversing the ball,” Raiders coach Mike Bradbury said. “You can’t just play on one side of the floor against them.”
Walz said his team was within its goal of turnovers with 17, but would like to see further improvement.
“I’d love to get down to about 13 or 14 a game,” he said. “With how we’re trying to play in pushing the ball in transition, we’re going to have some.”
Gibbs, a 5-foot-9 guard who had a hip injury last season, played eight minutes and collected two steals.
Walz said the biggest challenge will be managing her playing time.
“We have to make sure we continue to have her feeling good,” he said. “Tonight we were fortunate to get off to a good start and I really didn’t need to put her out there again.”