LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)Emily Engstler is adjusting quite well to her new home court.
Engstler scored 18 of her 20 points in the first half, Kianna Smith added 10 and No. 10 Louisville cruised past UT Martin 62-30 on Wednesday night for its second consecutive victory.
Engstler began 7 of 8 from the field, including 4 for 4 from behind the arc, to jumpstart the Cardinals (2-1) toward a 32-11 halftime lead despite 36% shooting in the second quarter. The Syracuse transfer scored eight of Louisville’s first 10 points and 13 overall after one quarter. She added a pair of third-quarter free throws before missing her final attempt and sitting out the final 13 minutes.
”They were leaving me open and it went in, so that definitely helped,” said Engstler, who also had a pair of rebounds and steals. ”Sometimes, when you feel you feel it, and hopefully you stay consistent.”
Louisville’s defense also came up big, holding the Skyhawks to 3-of-11 shooting in the second quarter in particular and forcing 11 of UTM’s 18 turnovers before halftime. The Cardinals also controlled the boards 36-24 and had 17 assists, additional advantages that helped them lead by as many as 33 late in the fourth quarter.
Louisville also shot 7 of 13 on 3-pointers, including two by Smith, and finished at 44% from the field. Olivia Cochran had six points and seven rebounds, and Liz Dixon and Ramani Parker added six points each for Louisville, which routed crosstown Bellarmine 82-25 the previous night.
The Cardinals’ efficiency pleased coach Jeff Walz the most, particularly the way players seemed to find open shooters such as Engstler.
”Of her seven made field goals, all seven were assisted, so that’s what you have to have,” Walz said. ”I thought there for about a four-minute stretch because they were switching up defenses, they were extending their 1-3-1 (zone) out. You’re not just going to have a zone offense, you’ve got to play ball. And we made some spectacular reads.”
Paige Pipkin had 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting for UT Martin (2-2), which shot just 28% and had its two-game winning streak stopped.
Louisville hits the road again for a three-game stretch through the Thanksgiving holiday beginning Saturday at Washington, home state of sophomore guard Hailey Van Lith. The Cardinals then face Cal Poly next Tuesday and before closing at Colorado State on Nov. 28. Walz isn’t concerned about players having jet lag or being thrown off by different time zones.
”They’re 18- to 23-year-olds,” he said. ”I hope we don’t have to be worried about that. I mean, now, if it was me and I had to get out there and play, then we might have to be concerned about it.”
THE BIG PICTURE
UT Martin: Getting looks was hard and making baskets even harder for the Skyhawks due to Louisville’s disruptive pressure. A handful of shot clock violations and all those turnovers symbolized their struggle. Even when the Skyhawks had openings on the perimeter they couldn’t take advantage, shooting just 2 of 16 from behind the arc.
”It was a really good defensive effort from them for 40 minutes,” coach Kevin McMillan said. ”They made it hard for us to run our stuff but it was really good for us to work against. There was no let-up in their effort.”
Louisville: The Cardinals weren’t always sharp, but strung together enough solid stretches to provide a cushion. A night after posting 12 points and 14 rebounds, Engstler came out firing and UT Martin couldn’t stop her. The Cardinals also scored 23 points off turnovers.
UT Martin hosts Illinois State on Saturday.
Louisville visits Washington on Saturday.
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