Six players scored in double figures as the No. 5 Cardinals cruised to an 83-49 victory over Pittsburgh.
The two teams came into the Yum Center heading in opposite directions, and a 14-0 first quarter run for the Cardinals (20-1, 9-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) ensured they continued on their respective paths. Louisville won its 12th straight, while the Panthers (3-16, 0-8) suffered their 12th straight loss.
Dana Evans, Kylee Shook, Bionca Dunham and Elizabeth Balogun all had 12 each for the Cardinals. Jazmine Jones added 11, and Elizabeth Dixon pitched in 10 off the bench. It’s the most the Cardinals have had in one game this season. They also had six reach double figures in a win over Miami (Ohio) in November 2018, one off a school-record when seven scored 10 or more against Tennessee State in December 2017.
With the win, Louisville reached the 20-win plateau for the 10th consecutive season. Even though they lost AP All-American Asia Durr and two other senior starters from last year’s squad, this year’s Cardinals are keeping pace as they’ve nearly matched the 23-1 start from last year and the 25-1 start from two years ago.
“I feel like our team, right now, we have a lot of new faces and (are) trying still to put it together, but I feel like everything is coming along good,” said Dunham, a 6-2 senior who set a season-high scoring mark and a career-high with five assists.
Despite shooting 35.3% in the first quarter, Louisville still managed to shoot 47.7% overall.
In a matchup of the teams with the ACC’s best and worst records, the Cardinals had nine players score as coach Jeff Walz got to empty his bench. Starters Evans, Jones, and Dunham all sat out the final quarter, and Louisville still added to its lead, holding a 77-35 lead with less than six minutes left.
The Cardinals recorded 23 assists Sunday, their second-highest total this season.
“We played really, really unselfish,” Walz said. “We passed the ball extremely well. Defensively, we were pretty good at making them take shots we wanted them to take.”
Dayshanette Harris’ 18 points led the Panthers, who shot just 29.7%. It marked their fourth straight game shooting under 30 percent.
They also committed 22 turnovers, their second worst total this season.
Second-year coach Lance White said he saw some progress from his Panthers, especially as they were able to battle on the glass. Louisville held a 42-40 rebounding edge, but the Panthers got 18 off the offensive glass.
“Now, you got to put points on the board and can’t turn it over as many times as we turned it over,” White said. “But that’s it. We just can’t lose all of our young kids, and it’s hard whenever you’re losing.”
Walz said he and the team learned about Kobe Bryant’s death just before the game, and that the news left a couple players shaken. While he said the NBA legend was a “remarkable” ambassador for the women’s game, he felt for Bryant’s family going through the loss of him and his daughter, Gigi.
Bryant’s work in promoting women’s basketball included watching Louisville signee Hailey Van Lith play with her high school team just two weeks ago. Pictures of Bryant and Gigi with Van Lith, including one where they flashed the Cardinals’ signature L hand sign, quickly made their way through social media channels.
“I’m just grateful obviously for what Kobe has meant to women’s basketball and his commitment to it,” Walz said.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers didn’t just extend their in-season skid. They’ve now lost all 10 games they’ve played at Louisville. Pitt also hasn’t beaten the Cardinals anywhere in nearly a decade, as the Panthers last win in the series came on Feb. 14, 2010.
Louisville: The Cardinals still had stretches where they played down to the level of their competition, but there were fewer of them than there had been in recent games. Where they have allowed other teams to rally in the second half lately, they did not give Pitt that chance Sunday.
Pittsburgh hosts Wake Forest on Thursday night.
Louisville travels Thursday night to play Notre Dame.