PITTSBURGH (AP)Missing two starters, including one of the best overall players in the country, it took a little while for No. 5 Louisville to get going against Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Specifically, it took 10 minutes. The Cardinals (25-3, 14-2 ACC) led the Panthers by one point at the end of the first quarter but then took over. Louisville outscored Pitt 50-17 over the middle two periods to turn the game into a rout.
Starting point guard Dana Evans and shooting guard Elizabeth Balogun were both held out with injuries, but the Cardinals have plenty of quality depth to turn to.
”We had a few players that had to step up and play more minutes than they played in the past,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. ”I thought everybody played about as well as they could have today.”
One of those players was senior forward Kylee Shook. Usually relied on for her defense, Shook stepped up to score a team-high 17 points and grab 10 rebounds. Shook now has six double-doubles on the season and three in her last four games.
”That was kind of my focus this year coming in as a senior,” Shook said. ”I felt like I had to be more aggressive on the offensive part of my game.”
Fellow senior Yacine Diop added 15 points and four steals. As a team, Louisville forced 22 Pitt turnovers and turned them into 26 points.
The Cardinals turned the ball over just nine times while assisting on 21 of 30 made baskets. Mykasa Robinson led Louisville with eight assists and also grabbed seven rebounds.
Junior Gabbie Green scored 11 points to lead the Panthers (4-23, 1-15), who have dropped seven straight. Dayshanette Harris had 10 points and five rebounds.
Louisville: Evans is Louisville’s leading scorer with an 18.1 points per game average and is on several national player of the year watch lists. Balogun averages 8.8 points and five rebounds per game. Diop and Robinson started in their place, with Robinson making just her fourth career start.
”It gives them a lot of confidence,” Walz said. ”I thought Mykasa played really, really well tonight. That should be a big boost.”
Pitt: For the Panthers, this season has been about building for the future, with five first-year NCAA players in the regular rotation. Those five all started on Sunday and Harris recorded her fourth consecutive double-digit scoring performance. For head coach Lance White, the challenge is getting that closely played first quarter to extend to 40 minutes.
”You see what they’re capable in moments,” White said. ”They’ve got to grow up and really take handle of it.”
Sunday was Pitt’s senior day and injured guard Aysia Bugg was recognized as the lone senior on the Panthers’ roster. But after Bugg was presented with her collegiate jersey as a memento, she grabbed another for Diop.
Bugg and Diop had played together for the first four years of their collegiate careers at Pitt before Diop graduated and transferred to Louisville.
”I was not expecting that,” Diop said. ”I never had a senior night here, so for them to do that was really sweet. I really appreciate it.”
Diop is No. 18 in Pitt history with 1,093 career points in her 93 games with the Panthers. A native of Dakar, Senegal, she also played her high school basketball in Pittsburgh.
”It brings back a lot of memories,” Diop said. ”Pittsburgh will always be home for me.”
Louisville: Returns home to host Boston College on Feb. 27. The Cardinals are 20-3 in ACC games at home over the last three seasons.
Pitt: Will visit Virginia on Feb. 27. The Panthers are 0-10 on the road this season and have not won a conference road game since 2017.