No. 8 Louisville women rout Valparaiso, 96-40

GARY GRAVES (AP Sports Writer)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Saturday night wasn't about personal accomplishments for Shawnta' Dyer and Antonita Slaughter.

The Louisville duo was more focused on helping the eighth-ranked Cardinals achieve a complete game, a quest that not only ended with a 96-40 victory over Valparaiso but some individual satisfaction as well.

Dyer had 12 points and 10 rebounds for her first double-double this season, while Slaughter scored a season-high 13 points in her first start. They were part of a balanced effort in which five Cardinals scored in double figures and made sure their lead kept growing against the outmatched Crusaders.

''We're just trying to hold ourselves accountable every game,'' said Dyer, a sophomore forward. ''Even though we play teams that aren't up to our caliber we've still got to play like we play every team.''

For Slaughter, the start was a reward for a good week of practice that began with Sunday's nine-rebound effort against Kentucky.

''I think I'm confident and I think my team has confidence in me,'' said Slaughter, who was 4 of 9 from the field including two 3-pointers. ''It's just coming out and performing every night knowing my team has my back.''

Louisville (9-1) never had a problem with Valparaiso, jumping out to a 35-4 lead in the first 10:16. The Cardinals continued building from there and ended up with a season high in scoring.

Sara Hammond also had 13 points with eight rebounds for the Cardinals. Sherrone Vails and Jude Schimmel each added 12 points as everyone scored for Louisville, which won the first meeting between the schools.

''It was a great effort,'' Cardinals coach Jeff Walz said. ''I thought we came out with a lot of passion and heart to start the game.''

What pleased Walz most was how the Cardinals kept up the intensity. After the Crusaders opened the second half with an 8-2 run to close to 57-27, the coach pulled the lineup; Louisville responded with an 18-3 run and didn't look back.

''We always say at halftime it's zero-to-zero,'' Dyer said. ''We have a goal of how many points we're going to hold a team to. It's not about winning anymore. It's about executing our game.''

The full-game effort allowed Louisville to hit its pregame goal of keeping Valparaiso under 42 points. The Cardinals shot just 45 percent but made just nine turnovers after committing a season-high 25 in Sunday's loss to Kentucky.

The Cardinals' defense made the biggest impact, forcing 31 turnovers leading to 38 points.

Tabitha Gerardot and Maegan Callaway each scored nine points for Valparaiso (3-6), which shot just 39 percent and didn't get into double digits until late in the first half.

Louisville bounced back big after Sunday's 48-47 loss to intrastate rival Kentucky. The Cardinals blew a 14-point second half lead and were stunned by Wildcats freshman Janee Thompson, who hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds remaining.

Walz urged his team to move on quickly from that disappointment and focus on preparing for the upcoming Big East schedule. Considering how Sunday's error-prone game ended for the Cardinals, the immediate objective was correcting those mistakes.

Valparaiso meanwhile was coming off Tuesday's 82-73 win at IPFW that ended a five-game slide. The Crusaders shot 50 percent and converted 24 of 27 free throws in that game, a big improvement from their skid in which they shot just 103 of 306 (34 percent).

The Cardinals needed less than 3 minutes to put the Crusaders in another hole.

Louisville led 12-0 lead with 3-pointers comprising three of its first five baskets. The Cardinals followed with a 27-7 run en route to a 55-19 halftime lead, hitting 22 of 44 from the field including 6 of 11 from beyond the arc.

Slaughter contributed two of those 3's in scoring a team-high nine points in the half.

Walz chalked up Slaughter's recent play to ''her focus, just how she approaches the game.''

Defensively, she was part of a bigger starting lineup that overwhelmed the Crusaders. Valparaiso committed 15 turnovers leading to 25 points for Louisville, which turned the ball over just twice.