LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Louisville’s challenge against top-ranked Connecticut in Monday night’s American Athletic Conference matchup is no different from last month.
The No. 3 Cardinals (28-2, 16-1) must overcome a Huskies team that is tough to beat.
Senior forward Asia Taylor believes disciplined play can help Louisville end its 13-game losing streak against them, including last year’s NCAA championship game and last month’s 81-64 loss, and claim a share of first place in the regular season finale.
Discipline is a must considering how UConn (30-0, 17-0) takes advantage of opponents’ mistakes.
Said Taylor: “the thing about UConn is they make you pay anytime you’re undisciplined, anytime you reach, anytime you’re out of position.”
The Cardinals have won five straight since that loss and are 17-0 at home.
Louisville’s success depends on containing UConn forward Breanna Stewart, who had 23 points in last spring’s NCAA title game and keyed pivotal momentum swings en route to 24 points in last month’s victory in Storrs, Conn.
The Cardinals got within 29-24 before Stewart responded with two baskets from beyond the arc. After Louisville made it 47-40, Stewart replied again with five straight points and the Cardinals never got closer.
“We can’t have breakdowns on defense,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “We keep our hands down twice on Stewart and she gets back-to-back 3s. That’s the kind of player she is. Mentally, we have to be focused for 40 minutes on defense, or it just puts that much more pressure on you on the offensive end.”
That sense of urgency enhances what already figures to be an emotional night for Louisville’s four seniors, who have aided the program’s rise into a national contender in different ways.
Schimmel, one of the Cardinals’ most prolific shooters, recently joined all-time leader Angel McCoughtry as the only players with 2,000-plus points.
While memorable moments of her career will be recognized and reflected upon, she said the goal remains staying focused against the Huskies.
“I’m trying not to get emotional about it, because I’m going to think about it after the game,” Schimmel said. “I’m going to focus on the basketball game because I’m excited and I want to beat UConn. That’s my first priority. I’ll cry after the game.”
Among the near-capacity crowd expected at the KFC Yum! Center are several thousand fans from Native American tribes in 38 states coming to cheer Schimmel and younger sister Jude, a Louisville junior guard.