PHOENIX (AP) — Louisville coach Jeff Walz lectured his team so long after the game that he missed his radio interview. Fans hoping to talk to Cardinals players had to exit the arena before he was through in the locker room.
Walz had plenty to say __ little of it positive __ after the 10th-ranked Cardinals slogged through a 65-51 victory over Grand Canyon on Thursday night.
“We could never get a run going because we couldn’t finish on the offensive end, and then we’d have a breakdown on the defensive end,” Walz said more than an hour after the game ended. “That’s what we tried to talk about, you have to play for 40 minutes.”
Outside of Mariya Moore, who scored 17 points and led the decisive second-half spurt, Louisville was bogged down offensively. The Cardinals shot 35 percent from the field and missed 10 of 22 free throws.
“It was just effort,” Moore said of the team’s difficulties.
Moore had a 3-pointer, assist and steal in quick succession as Louisville built a 56-35 lead with 7:57 left. She hit 3 of 6 3-pointers and all four free throws in Louisville’s second straight win following a loss to Kentucky.
But no other players scored in double figures. And Louisville gave up 16 offensive rebounds.
“They made kids on our team do things that aren’t our strengths,” Walz said. “It’s probably the best scouting job.”
Coming off a 54-point rout of Old Dominion on Monday, the Cardinals (10-1) struggled against Grand Canyon’s aggressive zone early as the Antelopes (3-7) played a Top 10 team for the first time.
Louisville, which never trailed, committed 10 first-half turnovers and led 32-24 at the break. But the Cardinals’ size and depth eventually wore down the Antelopes ahead of Louisville’s trip to No. 24 California on Sunday.
August Touchard scored 13 points for Grand Canyon, which was held to 30 percent shooting.
Grand Canyon, in the second year of its transition from NCAA Division II, committed seven turnovers in the first 4:29 before settling down and keeping Louisville close despite lacking experience and size.
“You try to assimilate as much as possible what it’s going to be like,” Antelopes coach Trent May said. “Big crowd, playing against a really good basketball team. Once we settled down, got the nerves out, I think we did a really good job.”
The Antelopes, the first for-profit school in Division I, lost all five starters from last season’s team that went 21-9 in its debut in the Western Athletic Conference. They finished with 19 turnovers.
Louisville: Entering as the nation’s 13th-best rebounding team, the Cardinals held only a 22-19 edge at halftime, but finished 49-38 with 23 offensive rebounds.
Grand Canyon: Dan Majerle, the former Phoenix Suns player and assistant who coaches the Antelopes men, sat courtside.
The game was scheduled as a homecoming for Louisville forward Cortnee Walton. The junior from Surprise, Ariz., and Phoenix’s St. Mary’s high school made her first collegiate start in her first game of the season. She missed the first 10 games with a broken third toe on her right foot.
With more than 100 family and friends rooting her on from behind the Louisville bench, Walton scored on a post move early and finished with four points and five rebounds in 17 minutes.
“My mom was putting in on Facebook weeks and months in advance,” Walton said. “Free, free free, everybody come to the game. So it was really exciting.”
Louisville: The matchup with California on Sunday is their first meeting since the Cardinals’ victory in the 2013 Final Four.
Grand Canyon: Hosts North Dakota State on Sunday.
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