- Associated Press - Sunday, March 23, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - If Louisville can keep playing like it did in its NCAA tournament opener, its seed could end up being an afterthought.

Sara Hammond led five players in double figures with 16 points and the third-seeded Cardinals rolled past Idaho 88-42 on Sunday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

Jude Schimmel had 14 points and Asia Taylor scored 13 for the Cardinals (31-4), who’ll face host Iowa in the second round on Tuesday.

Louisville shook off a sluggish start with a 28-10 run late in the first half. The Cardinals then opened the second half with 23 points in eight minutes to push their lead to 63-30.

What we’re trying to do right now is prove that we belong. I think a lot of that, with our seed, has to do with respect,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “I think if we’re a program that had been around for 20 years, we may have gotten a better seed. Who knows. Our kids are playing for respect right now. We understand that.”

Ali Forde had 16 points for 14th-seeded Idaho (25-9), which was outrebounded 42-23 and committed 18 turnovers.

Many were stunned to see Louisville be seeded as low as third - including Idaho coach Jon Newlee.

The Cardinals won 30 games for just the second time in school history, and three of their four losses were to unbeaten and top-ranked Connecticut.

Louisville certainly looked like a title contender against the overwhelmed Vandals.

Jude Schimmel converted a layup off a steal and her sister, Shoni Schimmel, hit a jumper that gave Louisville its first double-digit lead, 24-13, midway through the first half.

Jude then found a streaking Taylor for a bank shot and a 36-21 lead.

Jude is our spark coming off the bench. I think everybody on our team knows that. At the beginning we were kind of a little flustered. We were a little too excited to get out there and play. Jude came in and set the tone on defense,” Shoni Schimmel said.

The Cardinals extended their edge to 40-21 by halftime - and it would have been bigger if Forde and Alyssa Charlston hadn’t hit 8 of their first 10 shots for Idaho.

WAC Player of the Year Stacey Barr took a blow to the head early in the first half and finished just 1 of 7 from the field for Idaho.

“We certainly didn’t play our best basketball. Louisville had something to do with that. I think some of that was our own doing. But they’re a great basketball team. I said they should be a number one seed. They didn’t do anything out there to disprove that,” Newlee said.

Louisville opened the second half with baskets on their first three trips down the floor and cruised to its sixth straight opening-round win under Walz.

Antonita Slaughter scored 11 points and Shoni Schimmel had 10 points with 11 rebounds and for Louisville, which shot 71 percent in the second half.

“They were pushing the ball in transition really well and we weren’t stopping it,” Charlston said.

The Vandals were back in the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row after winning both the regular season and conference tournament titles in the WAC.

Idaho even moved up two seeds from a year ago, when it was blasted by UConn 105-37.

But the Vandals haven’t beaten a team from a high major conference since 2004, and an optimistic start soon gave way to reality.

Louisville missed their first seven shots and was called for a pair of charges in the first four minutes. But Jude Schimmel buried a corner 3 to give Louisville its first lead, and the Cardinals never looked back.

“I thought we fought through the first four or five minutes of the game that we did not play extremely well. But we played hard, and finally got things under control, relaxed, and thought we did some really good things offensively and defensively,” Walz said.