LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)Jazmine Jones was perfect from the field for Louisville. Little else was perfect for the No. 9 Cardinals.
Still, they came away with a lopsided victory on Friday night.
Jones scored 14 points to lead Louisville to a 76-40 victory over Murray State.
A senior guard, Jones, made all six of her shots and matched a career-high five steals while playing just 15 minutes. Kylee Shook added 13 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, Dana Evans finished with 12 points, Elizabeth Balogun had 11 points and nine of the Cardinals’ 12 players scored.
Macey Turley, last year’s Ohio Valley Conference freshman of the year, scored 18 points to lead the Racers (0-1).
Louisville (2-0) scored the game’s first 13 points, but the Cardinals didn’t necessarily race out to the lead. While Murray State missed its first 13 shots, the Cardinals made just five of their 14 shots in the first quarter and committed 10 turnovers in the period.
The Cardinals committed 21 turnovers, a figure that coach Jeff Walz said his team will need to fix.
”A lot of time, a lot of places, you turn it over 21 times, you’re going to get beat,” he said.
Part of the challenge is Louisville, which lost three starters from last year’s Elite Eight squad, is working in some new faces in its rotation.
That doesn’t come together overnight, Jones said.
”We just have to keep jelling in practice, and it’ll lead to us playing better and together in a game,” she said. ”We just have to get more comfortable with each other. We’ll be OK.”
Louisville carried a 38-10 lead into halftime, thanks partially to the play of Evans. The junior guard scored eight consecutive points in a 1:08 span, ending her own mini-run with a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left in the second quarter.
Shook did most of her damage in the third quarter. She scored all her points and had six of her rebounds in the quarter. Her putback with 1:57 left in the period gave the Cardinals a 61-20 lead and ended a 20-0 run that gave Louisville its largest of the game.
It wasn’t pretty, but Louisville was never threatened Friday. That should be enough to keep the Cardinals in the top 10 when the new poll comes out next week.
Louisville’s not the only top 10 team on the Racers’ schedule as Murray State travels to No. 8 Mississippi State next Friday. Asked what she hopes her Racers get out of those games, Coach Rechelle Turner said she hopes they will help the players get ready for conference play, but there’s a financial reason to play the big schools.
The program’s new $95,000 locker room was paid for because Turner said she got her ”tail kicked four times.” The team is also scheduled to go to Walt Disney World next year for the Orlando Invitational holiday tournament.
”We want our players to experience the things that the bigger schools experience, and we have to do that by playing money games,” she said.
Murray State: The Racers, picked to finish eighth in the OVC this season, had a very difficult test to start their season. Turner played eight freshmen and sophomores, seven in the first half, against a bigger, deeper Cardinals squad. Part of the slow start was due to nerves in a big arena, but the Cardinals size definitely played a factor.
”I can’t simulate that athleticism and length in any way, shape or form,” Turner said. ”We don’t even have guys on our campus – unless they’re on the men’s team – that look like some of those girls do.”
Louisville: After shooting 49.2 % in their season opener Tuesday against Western Kentucky, the Cardinals looked far less sharp offensively, at least in the beginning, against an inferior foe. However, they dominated the boards, outrebounding the Racers 59-34, and held Murray State to just 24.6% shooting.
Murray State: At Mississippi Valley State on Wednesday
Louisville: Hosts Central Michigan on Thursday.
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