LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Dana Evans shrugged off a season-low scoring performance in her previous game because it gave her Louisville teammates a chance to shine.
The Cardinals guard maintained that team-first approach on Tuesday while adding a brilliant individual effort. Evans scored 22 of her career-high 29 points in the first half to spur No. 2 Louisville to a 96-61 rout of UT Martin.
The teams were meeting for the second time in less than a month — a replacement for a postponed Louisville-North Carolina game.
The Cardinals (8-0) outscored the Skyhawks (2-3) 28-11 in the second quarter to lead 49-24 at halftime. Evans, who scored 25 points against UT Martin last month, made six 3-pointers to finish 10 of 12 from the field. She topped her previous best of 28 points against Oklahoma State on Nov. 29, 2019.
In her previous game, Evans scored 11 points in 17 minutes, missing all three attempts from behind the arc. It didn’t matter as Louisville emptied its bench in a 97-46 rout of crosstown Bellarmine.
This time, Louisville coach Jeff Walz made sure Evans had the ball early and often.
“She really let the game come to her in the first half,” Walz said. “When someone’s shooting as well as she was, we’ve got to do everything we can to find them in transition, to get them an open shot, create one for them.”
The All-American matched her previous game in the first 5 1/2 minutes alone as she scored 11 of Louisville’s first 15 points to put Louisville ahead 15-9. The Cardinals made of 10 of 20 shots in the second quarter to put the game out of reach.
“My first 3, I knocked it down, so I got it going early,” Evans said. “I knew I wasn’t going to continue to shoot that bad from 3. My shot’s going to fall because I put the work in, day in and day out.”
Kianna Smith scored 14 points with three 3s and Hailey Van Lith added 12 points to help Louisville win its third rescheduled nonconference game in five days. The Cardinals scored 26 points off 18 turnovers to improve to 11-0 all-time against UT Martin.
Chelsey Perry had 26 points and 10 rebounds for UT Martin, which shot 48% after halftime and 40% overall but never got close in the final 20 minutes.
The Skyhawks were outrebounded 39-28 but stayed relatively close in defensive boards (27-23) and points in the paint (30-24).
Louisville’s Atlantic Coast Conference schedule took some shape following the game with its meeting against Virginia Tech moved up three weeks to fill an opening on Thursday. The Cardinals will host Miami on Jan. 26 and Florida State on Feb. 23 after previous cancellations.
UT Martin needed the work with just two games played since Dec. 8, including its first in nearly a week. The Skyhawks stayed close in the early minutes but couldn’t slow Evans or Louisville after that. The Ohio Valley Conference school won’t make its home debut until Jan. 14 against Austin Peay.
“It was crazy to think that 36 hours ago, this game wasn’t even on the schedule,” UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan said, “so neither team had much of a chance to prepare. Basically, we are just in a situation where we need to play and you saw early how out of sync we were.”
Louisville had shot just 19% from behind the arc the past two games. Evans found her stroke early and others joined in as the Cardinals made 13 of 26 from deep.
UT Martin: Stays on the road with OVC games at Tennessee State on Thursday and Belmont on Saturday.
Louisville: Visits Virginia Tech on Thursday in its return to Atlantic Coast Conference play. The conference added the game on Tuesday.
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