ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Asia Taylor and fourth-ranked Louisville insisted they weren’t looking ahead to Sunday’s showdown against No. 1 Connecticut.
The Cardinals had enough to deal with Tuesday night against Central Florida.
“And if we didn’t take care of business tonight, Sunday wouldn’t have mattered,” said Taylor, whose double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds paced the Cardinals’ 74-59 victory that extended their winning streak to 16 and set the stage for Sunday’s meeting with the Huskies.
Her third-double-double of the season led a balanced Louisville (23-1 overall, 11-0 conference) scoring effort that saw four players reached double figures.
Sara Hammond had 14 points, Shoni Schimmel 11 and Emmanuel Henderson 10 for the Cardinals, who finally pulled away when Schimmel and Hammond combined for 10 points on a 15-3 run that gave Louisvile a 58-38 lead on Taylor’s 3-pointer with 12 minutes to play.
“This was a grind game,” Taylor said. “It shouldn’t have been like this. We should have put it away earlier. We had a hard time running the ball and guarding the drive. You’re going to have game like this where you just have to find a way to win.”
Like Taylor, Louisville coach Jeff Walz said this wasn’t a trap game, and the Cardinals struggled at first in a game more physical than his team expected. Louisville committed 23 fouls and sent Central Florida to the line 22 times.
“(Central Florida) punched us in the mouth and we didn’t respond,” Walz said. “We didn’t play with physicality - they (Central Florida) were and credit to them. You have to be able to adjust game in and game out. What’s getting called this game may not have been called on Sunday, and that’s OK. You have to be able to adjust.”
UCF (9-13,2-9) got as close as 63-53 on a Andrea Hines three-pointer with 5:31 left, but could come no closer.
Louisville trailed just once, 3-2, but a Antonita Slaugher three-pointer and a Hammond lay-up gave the Cardinals a 7-3 lead that they built to as many as 11. Henderson, a freshman, had the early scoring hand as she did all scoring in an eight-minute span of the first half.
“We’re known for our balance,” Walz said. “Not having to rely on one person is good for us.”
Sara Djassi had 12 points and Zykira Lewis 10 for the Knights, who lost for the ninth time in the last 10 games.
Louisville was forced to remain in Orlando after the game due to weather conditions back in Kentucky. When the team returns home, the preparations for Sunday will begin.
“We’re stuck here, so we’ll go back to the hotel, watch the film from this game and learn from it,” Walz said.