Jeff Walz becomes winningest Louisville coach in blowout

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Fourth-ranked Louisville quickly took all the suspense out of Jeff Walz's milestone coaching victory, which was good and fitting considering he has spent seven years making sure his team imposes its will on opponents from the outset.

When it was over, the Cardinals had their ninth-largest victory margin and immediately handed Walz a game ball for a victory he won't forget on many levels.

Shoni Schimmel scored 13 points and Walz became the program's winningest coach as Louisville cruised past Ohio 90-33 on Thursday night.

"I've just got to say thanks to all the players that have bought into what we've tried to do here and believed in me and what we're trying to do here," said Walz, whose 153-65 record includes two NCAA championship appearances, including one last spring.

"It's the longest time I've ever been some place as a coach because this is a profession where you'll get out before they get you out. I plan on staying here until I retire or get fired."

That scenario seems unlikely anytime soon after a victory that typified his tenure.

Four days after an overtime victory at Oklahoma to win the preseason WNIT, the Cardinals (5-0) picked up where they left off to dominate Ohio in every category. Besides shooting 34-of-56 from the field to finish with a season-best 61 percent, Louisville outscored the Bobcats 46-14 inside and outrebounded them 54-25.

The Cardinals weren't perfect, committing 19 turnovers. But those mistakes were overshadowed by their stellar efforts elsewhere.

Ohio (2-1) never got going offensively, hitting just 7 of 29 shots in the first half -- including missing its first 14 from 3-point range. The Bobcats hit just 2 of 25 shots from beyond the arc and 10 of 53 (19 percent) overall.

"I didn't think we played real hard in the first half, but I did think we got some open looks," Ohio coach Bob Boldon said. "(Missing the 3s), I think, mentally, that got to us. We've got to get better at handling adversity.

"But, make no mistake about it: This Louisville team is really, really good."

Bria Smith added 12 points, reserve forward Shawnta' Dyer 15 and Megan Deines 11 as every Cardinal who played scored.

Cortnee Walton added 10 rebounds and six points for the Cardinals, who had 22 assists.

"Coach said (beating) Oklahoma doesn't matter if you come out and lay an egg," Schimmel said. "That gets us motivated. Oklahoma wasn't a fluke. We went out there and we played hard and wanted to prove it tonight."

Quiera Lampkins' 13 points led the Bobcats.

Ohio starting forward Lexie Baldwin, who entered as the team's second-leading scorer (14.5 points per game), scored just three points before fouling out with 9:34 left in the game. She shot 1-for-4 in 15 minutes of play. Reserve guard and leading scorer Kiyanna Black (21.5 points) had just four points in 24 minutes.

The Cardinals came in on a huge roll after Sunday's WNIT title victory over then-No. 11 Oklahoma in which they rallied from a 15-point deficit to force overtime before putting away the Sooners. Louisville reached the final by routing then-No. 14 LSU a week ago with a huge second-half run.

Louisville needed just 5 1/2 minutes to build a 14-2 lead and sow the seeds for a thorough blowout that involved everybody but Sunday's hero Tia Gibbs, who sat out the game after playing 34 minutes and scoring 23 points against the Sooners.

As Ohio struggled through a cold-shooting half, including 1-of-15 from 3-point range, Louisville didn't miss a beat. Besides exploiting their size advantage in the low post, Smith's 10 points from several spots symbolized the Cardinal guards' ease in penetrating and spotting up for jumpers en route to a 53 percent shooting half.

Louisville tried a variety of defenses and contested shots but mostly just had to wait for defensive rebounds as Ohio misfired from all over the floor. A 2-for-11 start left the Bobcats in a 29-6 hole midway through the half, and they made just five of the next 18.

The Bobcats kept shooting, though, and Mariah Bayard finally broke through from long range with 3 seconds left to make it 43-17 at the break.