LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Sara Hammond scored 16 of Louisville’s first 20 points and the No. 4 Cardinals held off Virginia 67-55 on Sunday.
The senior forward finished with 20 points as Louisville (17-1, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its ninth straight and remained perfect in the conference to sit atop the ACC standings.
Virginia (13-5, 3-2) trailed by five with 10 minutes left. Myisha Hines-Allen’s jumper with 2:29 remaining put the Cardinals up 61-50 to seal the win. Hines-Allen scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half.
The Cardinals dominated 52-24 in the paint, scoring 50 or more inside for the sixth time this season. That allowed the Cardinals to overcome missing all nine 3s and poor shooting from the free throw line (11 of 26).
Faith Randolph led the Cavaliers with 24 points, her third straight game with 23 or more points. Sarah Imovbioh added 11 points and 15 rebounds.
Hammond repeatedly cut through the Virginia defense by slipping ball screens and taking passes for a layup. The Cavaliers made just 1 of 11 3-pointers, this after Thursday’s 68-56 win against Boston College where they hit 13 3s, one shy of tying the program record.
Randolph’s behind-the-back dribble and step-back jumper with 2:17 left in the first half cut Louisville’s lead to 27-25 as the Cardinals went 3 1/2 minutes without scoring. Louisville led 32-27 at halftime.
Hines-Allen scored Louisville’s first nine points of the second half before Hammond’s layup put the Cards up 43-37. Hines-Allen’s drive and and then an assist to Hammond on a layup followed for a 47-39 advantage with 13:11 remaining.
Virginia drew within 49-44 on two Randolph jumpers and could have cut the lead to 3. Breyana Mason missed with both free throws with 10:07 remaining as Louisville held the Cavaliers scoreless for 3 1/2 minutes before Mason’s drive with 6:35 left made it 53-46. Virginia again cut the lead to 7 with 4:50 left but got no closer.
Louisville outscored the Cavaliers 26-6 in the paint in the final 20 minutes.
Louisville: Sunday’s win sets up what could be the Cardinals toughest stretch of the season. Three of their next four games are against ranked opponents, with another against Miami who sits in second place in the conference standings.
Virginia: Senior center Sarah Imovbioh entered Sunday scoring 14.6 points and grabbing a conference-leading 11.2 rebounds, one of four ACC players to average a double-double. . The trip to Louisville marked the second consecutive Sunday the Cavaliers traveled to face a ranked conference foe. Virginia lost 70-58 at Syracuse last week.
Louisville: Visits No. 20 Florida State on Thursday.
Virginia: Visits Miami on Wednesday.
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