LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Hailey Van Lith scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead No. 5 Louisville to a 101-58 victory in its home opener over Eastern Kentucky on Sunday.
The Cardinals (2-0) used a 16-2 run to start the second quarter, take a 35-14 lead with 5:17 left in the half and put the game away. They would lead by as much as 40-16 in the half.
Van Lith, a McDonald’s High School All-American last season, lived up to expectations in her home debut. She made 7-of-13 shots, including five 3-pointers.
Social distancing restrictions forced Louisville to reduce capacity for Sunday’s game.
“Although it wasn’t the typical game that I had seen on my visits, it was still a great first game at home,” she said. “I really enjoyed the fans. I can’t wait to play in front of them again.”
Senior guard Dana Evans also scored 20. A preseason All-American, Evans made just 7-of-16 shots Sunday, but added seven assists.
Louisville coach Jeff Walz said he’s excited watching his two highly touted guards on the court at the same time.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “If Dana and Hailey continue to develop a chemistry with each other, it could be a really exciting season to watch those two play.”
Amerah Steele’s 11 points led the Colonels (0-2), who shot just 33.9 percent and committed 20 turnovers.
Louisville was supposed to play at Cincinnati Saturday, but that game, like many others across the country, was canceled Thursday after Cincinnati discovered a positive COVID-19 case within the program. The Cincinnati game may be rescheduled later this week, Walz announced after the game.
Walz also noted that Louisville will likely announce a replacement opponent for Connecticut for this Friday at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. That will likely be a top 20 team, he said.
Eastern Kentucky had the country’s third-best turnaround last season with a 10-win improvement. With seven newcomers, including six freshmen, on this year’s team, the Colonels may find it a challenge to duplicate that kind of success in Williams’ second year.
Louisville returned just five players from last year’s Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season champions, but on Sunday the Cardinals newcomers showed they should be able to maintain the Cardinals’ lofty standards. Besides Van Lith, freshman Olivia Cochran added 15 points and Ahlana Smith, last year’s national junior college player of the year, added nine points and six rebounds.
Eastern Kentucky is slated to start Ohio Valley Conference action next Saturday, hosting Morehead State.
Louisville is scheduled to host Tennessee-Martin next Sunday.