SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)Dana Evans and her Louisville teammates knew they wouldn’t be seeing the same old Notre Dame.
So they wanted to end things quickly Thursday night and did just that in a lopsided 86-54 victory.
”We knew we had to be aggressive and take it at them,” Evans said after scoring 17 points as the fifth-ranked Cardinals ran off to a 9-0 start and won their 13th straight game. ”We knew they were short on their bench, but we felt they were going to be ready to play.”
Jazmine Jones scored 14 points, Kylee Shook had 12 points and Elizabeth Balogun added 11 for the Cardinals (21-1, 10-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Louisville plays the U.S. national team on Sunday in an exhibition.
Katlyn Gilbert scored 18 points and Sam Brunelle had 17 points for the Irish (7-14, 2-7), who have lost a program-record eight home games this season. They reached the national title game last season before losing to Baylor and lost their entire starting lineup in the WNBA draft.
”Louisville is a really good team,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. ”They have depth, they have size and they’ve got athletic ability.”
After a sluggish start, Louisville coach Jeff Walz called a timeout with 4:36 remaining after Notre Dame cut its deficit to 14-8 on Gilbert’s drive down the lane.
”We had four turnovers in our first 10 possessions of the game,” Walz said. ”You just can’t do that. I told them to stay focused, take care of the basketball and give each other shots.”
The Cardinals then responded with 3-pointers from Evans, who played basketball at Gary West High School, and Balogun. They finished on a 13-3 run to lead 27-11 after the first quarter.
Brunelle scored seven points to help the Irish close to 33-23 with 5:52 before half. But Louisville responded with a 13-2 run and eventually went ahead 50-25. The Cardinals shot 64% in the first half and led 50-29.
The lead grew to as many as 36 points in the second half as Walz rested his starters beginning in the third quarter.
Louisville: The Cardinals made shots from everywhere against Notre Dame’s soft 2-3 zone. Walz’s team was just as good defensively, limiting Notre Dame to 30% shooting. Louisville also dominated the boards with a 45-32 edge and the 6-foot-4 Shook blocked six shots.
Walz said his team is excited about playing the national team.
”We’ll watch them practice,” Walz said. ”That’s probably better than having your own practice. It’s a great opportunity to see the best players in the world. I’ve told our team everybody is going to play.”
Notre Dame: Against the Cardinals, it was quite apparent how far the Fighting Irish have fallen in talent since their runner-up finish last April. McGraw called three timeouts in the first half, trying to help her overmatched team.
”I think I need to petition the NCAA for more timeouts,” McGraw joked. ”I thought all the ones I had accrued over the years could be used now.”
The Irish used seven players for most of the game before turning to their walk-ons.
McGraw, who has led the Irish to a pair of national championships and is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, talked with North Carolina men’s coach Roy Williams recently about their teams’ mutual struggles.
”You’ve had success and you know it’s going to come back,” McGraw said.
Louisville: Following Sunday’s exhibition against U.S. Women’s National Team, the Cardinals host No. 14 Florida State on Feb. 6.
Notre Dame: Play on Sunday at Georgia Tech.
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