DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Dana Evans scored 24 points and second-ranked Louisville pulled away in the second half to beat Duke 73-49 on Wednesday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Kianna Smith added 15 points for the Cardinals (5-0). They led by just six midway through the third quarter before going on an 18-5 run to blow the game open.
“I thought we continued just to play with poise,” said Louisville coach Jeff Walz, adding that the Cardinals must improve their halfcourt execution as opponents try to take away their transition game.
“We’ve got to be able to make reads,” Walz continued. ” We’ve got to be able to do the small things. And if we can continue to develop and get better at that, then offensively we’re going to be pretty hard to stop.”
Louisville shot 44% and made 7 of 16 3-pointers, with Smith hitting three and Evans and freshman Hailey Van Lith each making two.
Jade Williams scored 13 points for the Blue Devils (3-1), who were playing their first league game under new coach Kara Lawson. Duke shot just 36% and made 1 of 16 3-pointers after making 24 3s over the previous two games.
“We had a hard time scoring the whole night,” Lawson said. “In the first quarter, missed a ton of layups, had I think four or five 3s roll in and out. It’s a part of it.
“I told our group after the game: when you have nights like that, you’ve got to be able to play your defense at a really high level to give you a chance.”
Louisville: The Cardinals moved up three spots in this week’s AP Top 25 poll to match their highest ranking in program history. Louisville entered averaging a league-best 94 points per game to rank ninth nationally, including 116 points in Friday’s win against No. 24 DePaul. The Cardinals followed up by having four players in double figures, including Van Lith (14) and Olivia Cochran (11 points and 12 rebounds).
Duke: The Blue Devils had won their first three games under Lawson by comfortable margins, though this was a significant step up in competition. They had five players averaging in double figures in multiple games of work to start the year, led by Miela Goodchild (18.0), while shooting nearly 51% from the floor. But Duke missed its first 12 3s and had just two players in double figures, while Goodchild scored just seven points on 3-for-11 shooting.
Louisville: Host North Carolina on Sunday.
Duke: At Miami on Sunday.
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