LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kianna Smith scored 17 points, Hailey Van Lith added 16 and No. 3 Louisville outscored No. 18 Notre Dame 29-6 over parts of the middle two quarters for a 73-47 rout on Sunday.
Louisville (22-2, 13-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) took control of an initially close contest late in the second quarter after two quick fouls sent 6-foot-3 Fighting Irish forward Maya Dodson to the bench with 3:54 left. The Cardinals followed with six points over 1:16 for a 27-19 lead before Hall added a 3-pointer and Kianna Smith two free throws to cap the 11-2 spurt for a 32-21 halftime lead.
“Our offensive philosophy sometimes is to pick a game changer for them and go at them and get them in foul trouble,” said Van Lith, who made 7 of 14 from the field. “That was what we wanted to do with Maya out, and we were able to do it. Getting her out of the paint allowed us to get easier paint points, easier kickouts and have them help more.”
Chelsie Hall’s six consecutive points keyed Louisville’s 11-0 spurt coming out of the break and eventual 18-4 run that broke the game open at 52-25. The Cardinals easily maintained a 20-point cushion to earn their seventh series win in nine meetings against Notre Dame (19-6, 10-4).
Holding the ACC’s second-best offense 28 points below its season average made it more satisfying.
“I thought we did a great job defensively, there’s no question about it,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “But part of it was because it wasn’t as fast-paced a game.”
Sonia Citron had 13 points and Olivia Miles 11 for the Irish, who had won five of six including an upset of then-No. 3 North Carolina State on Feb. 1. Notre Dame shot 32%, 13% below its season average and the second lowest after a 31% effort at UConn in December.
“I would never have guessed that we’d shoot 2 for 22 from the 3(-point line) from this group, ” coach Niele Ivey said. “It just wasn’t our night. Today, we really struggled to score.”
Hall finished with 13 points while Emily Engstler had nine with 12 rebounds and five assists for Louisville, which dominated the boards 50-32. The Cardinals which returned from unexpected break after Thursday night’s game against Virginia was canceled because of travel issues with the Cavaliers. Louisville earned a win by forfeit and followed with a blowout to stay within reach of first-place N.C. State.
Given a rare night off during the stretch run nonetheless, Walz said his team got dressed up and “celebrated” with a dinner at one of Louisville’s finest steak restaurants.
“I called around a lot of the restaurants in town and, it’s tough at 2:30, three o’clock to try to get a reservation for 12,” he said. “We’re very fortunate that we were able to get in there and it was quite a treat. … That’s kind of how we celebrated playing so well defensively.”
Notre Dame: The Irish struggled in many phases areas after a solid start. They shot just 2 of 22 from long range (9%) and finished just were just slightly better inside the arc (18 of 41). Dodson (eight points, nine rebounds in 36 minutes) was absent for final four minutes of the first half, but her brief absence was long enough to change momentum on both ends of the floor. Junior forward Sam Brunelle left the game in the first quarter with a sprained shoulder and did not return.
Louisville: The Cardinals showed no rust from the extra time down time, though it took a half for them to shoot consistently. They made 50% after halftime and shot 44% overall, helped largely by a rebounding edge that provided extra chances. The Cardinals also scored 22 points off 16 turnovers.
Notre Dame visits Georgia Tech on Thursday.
Louisville visits North Carolina on Thursday.
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