Louisville women beat Middle Tenn 74-49 in NCAA

AP - Sports

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Shoni Schimmel scored 20 points, and fifth-seeded Louisville beat Middle Tennessee 74-49 on Sunday for its fifth straight opening NCAA tournament win under coach Jeff Walz.

The Cardinals (25-8) will play No. 4 seed Purdue, a 77-43 winner over Liberty, on Tuesday night in the second round of the Oklahoma City Regional.

Middle Tennessee (25-8) had won seven in a row. The Blue Raiders have dropped six straight first-round NCAA games.

Monique Reid added 15 points for Louisville. Bria Smith had 10 points and 10 rebounds with six assists, while Jude Schimmel added 11 points.

The Cardinals now are 4-1 all-time against Middle Tennessee, and they jumped on the Blue Raiders from the start.

Kortni Jones led Middle Tennessee with 14 points, and Icelyn Elie added 13. Ebony Rowe had her 21st double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Louisville outshot Middle Tennessee, hitting 53.8 percent (30 of 63) compared to 34.6 percent (18 of 52). The Cardinals also had 18 steals while forcing 24 turnovers, which they turned into 31 points. The Blue Raiders managed to stay close for a while by hitting eight of their first 17 3-point attempts before missing their last eight beyond the arc.

Middle Tennessee outrebounded the Cardinals 42-36 - not that it mattered with Louisville having a 50-12 scoring edge in the paint.

This was the first time the Cardinals have gotten to play on their home floor in the NCAA tournament, and they sure needed their fans when Middle Tennessee threatened to take the lead in the second half.

The Blue Raiders opened with Elie hitting her fourth 3-pointer followed by a 3 from Jones. Reid finally scored Louisville's first bucket of the half on a putback with 15:42 remaining. The teams swapped buckets, with Middle Tennessee closing to 42-40 on a 3-pointer from Laken Leonard from the left corner with 10:23 to go.

At one point, sophomore forward Sara Hammond motioned to the Louisville fans to get loud before inbounding the ball.

She didn't have to worry.

Louisville scored 10 straight points over the next 73 seconds. Shoni Schimmel started the scoring with a three-point play, and then Smith drove for a layup. Schimmel added a bucket on an assist from Smith before her sister, Jude, hit Louisville's second 3 of the game with 8:47 to go for a 52-42 advantage. The Cardinals just padded the lead from there, going up by as many as 25 points late.

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