No. 5 Louisville runs away from Quinnipiac

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville coach Jeff Walz wasn't totally pleased with his team's second straight triple-digit scoring output because of lapses on defense and at the free throw line that prevented the fifth-ranked Cardinals from winning by an even bigger margin.

His view was more positive of Sara Hammond's game that helped Louisville win comfortably.

Hammond had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Louisville forced 22 first-half turnovers in a 100-82 victory over Quinnipiac in a second-round game of the preseason WNIT on Monday night.

Hammond's energy on both ends of the court and 7-of-9 shooting helped the junior forward post her second consecutive double-double. This time, Hammond was critical in helping Louisville (2-0) get out and stay safely ahead of a Quinnipiac squad that always seemed to be on the brink of mounting a run.

"I just challenged myself to start out good because I know sometimes I can start out a little slow," said Hammond, who made six of eight free throws. "And just being an upperclassman this year doesn't give me an excuse for not coming out and playing hard.

"Being a big rebounder for my team, I have to play well because the coaches challenge me to do that every game so that's what I come out and try to do."

Added Walz, "Tonight, she went up and rebounded with two hands instead of trying to rebound with one. She had seven offensive rebounds, which is great. I was really pleased with that."

The Bobcats trailed 82-68 with about 6 minutes remaining but got no closer as the Cardinals made timely baskets and hit free throws down the stretch. But it was a mixed bag as Louisville made just 13 of 26 in the second half and 24 of 39 overall.

Antonita Slaughter had 19 points and Jude Schimmel added 16 for the Cardinals, who were 34 of 71 from the field (47.9 percent).

The decent shooting helped Louisville advance to Thursday night's semifinal, where the Cardinals will host No. 14 LSU. And despite the turnover total leading to 30 Louisville points, Walz stressed the need for improved defensive focus against the Tigers, who are definitely more physical than Quinnipiac and certainly won't allow the Cardinals to break 100 points as they have in both victories.

"There's no 'D' in our defense," Walz said. "I'm not going to yell and scream at them about getting down and getting in a stance. It's all pride now. If they don't want to guard, it's up to them. ...

"We got driven by some players that were good by not very athletic. If we can't guard that, I hate to see what's going to happen on Thursday night."

Gillian Abshire had 20 points for Quinnipiac (1-1), which shot 29 of 65 from the field (44.6 percent). Nikoline Ostergaard added 14 and Jasmine Martin had 11 for the Bobcats.

Asia Taylor had 12 points as every Louisville player scored. One Cardinal who struggled from the field was senior guard Shoni Schimmel, who shot just 1 of 13 but contributed 11 assists and five rebounds.

The Cardinals outscored the Bobcats 46-38 in the paint.

Hammond's double-double comes off her 11-point, 11-rebound effort in Louisville's 101-54 rout of Loyola Chicago on Saturday.

Walz no doubt wanted to carry that momentum over against Quinnipiac, but it came in fits and spurts for Louisville.

Louisville forced 22 turnovers leading to 21 points and shot 20 of 39 from the field (51.3 percent) en route to a 56-38 halftime lead that took more work than the Cardinals preferred.

Quinnipiac missed its first eight from long range before Abshire and Adily Martucci hit consecutive 3-pointers with about 5 minutes remaining in the first half, which became moot as Slaughter sandwiched 3s around another basket by Tia Gibbs for a 48-29 lead.

"If we had that first half back, I think we would've been in it more," Abshire said. "The second half we only had six turnovers and the first half we had 22. In the beginning we weren't used to their pressure as much. If we had it back, we could've been right in it in the end."

Louisville took its largest at 74-51 with 12:27 remaining in the game but lost concentration at times and allowed Quinnipiac to close the gap. Hammond said the Cardinals' free throw shooting obviously has room for improvement with LSU next.

"You know, right now, I just think it may be a lack of focus," she said. "So, we've just got to concentrate better and get repetitions, get in the gym and just keep doing the same thing over and over again, and hopefully they start falling."