Asia Durr’s first basket was just a matter of time and the right look. When it came from long range, two more soon followed to spark No. 3 Louisville past No. 2 UConn.
Most important for the Cardinals, they didn’t let up on the Huskies. That sparked a long-sought victory against the dominant team in women’s college basketball, and a long, loud celebration between Louisville players and their fans.
Durr scored 14 of her 24 points in the second quarter, Dana Evans added 20 points and Louisville held UConn to 38 percent shooting in a 78-69 victory Thursday night.
The Cardinals (20-1) achieved their initial goal by keeping the Huskies within reach without a point from Durr, who had sat out Sunday’s rout of Pittsburgh to rest a sore knee. She eventually made 8 of 18 from the field, with her perimeter shots coming just when Louisville needed them.
After starting 0 for 4 from the field, the senior guard made three consecutive 3s to open the second quarter and put the Cardinals up 32-24.
“I had great looks, even when the ball didn’t go in,” Durr said.
Louisville coach Jeff Walz made sure to keep his best player encouraged, which eventually paid off for Durr and the Cardinals.
“Not only did that give her a little confidence, I think her teammates heard that too,” Walz said.
Evans scored 12 points in the second half, hitting a 3-pointer with 1:55 remaining for a 70-59 lead, to help Louisville end a 17-game losing streak in the series. The Cardinals won their sixth in a row overall.
“It was a great win for sure,” said Evans, who made 5 of 10 from long range along with Durr. “It was something we’ve been working for and we stayed focused, we played together tonight and came out with the win.”
Jazmine Jones and Sam Fuehring followed with two free throws each for a 13-point lead and the Cardinals added four more from the line in the final 1:30 to seal their first series victory against UConn (18-2) since the inaugural meeting in the 1993 NCAA Tournament. Jones finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Fuehring added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Napheesa Collier had 20 points, and Crystal Dangerfield added 19 for the Huskies. They had won their previous seven since losing at Baylor.
UConn was 7 of 22 from the field in the fourth quarter and was outrebounded 46-40 overall.
“We struggled with their versatility and being able to attack in so many different ways,” said UConn senior guard Katie Lou Samuelson, who had 16 points. “We weren’t hitting shots that we normally do and we weren’t finishing that great. We still have to pick it up.”
Neither team reached 40 percent shooting, but turnovers were few as well as they combined for 11. … UConn outscored Louisville 11-7 in second-chance points, but all came in the first half. … Louisville’s bench outscored the Huskies 20-2. … The Cardinals held their sixth consecutive opponent below 40 percent shooting.
Louisville and UConn will likely swap positions in the poll.
UConn: The Huskies started off well but only led by four, which turned out to be their last edge all night. It soon became a game of catch-up once Durr started hitting, a quest that was hurt by several droughts of at least two minutes. The Huskies also missed a lot of layups and a few free throws that could’ve helped.
“There was a stretch in the third quarter where I thought it got away from us,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “We made a lot of mistakes defensively, and they took advantage of every one of them. Every time we made a mistake, they got a bucket.”
Louisville: The Cardinals didn’t blink while trailing early and got contributions from others until Durr responded. Once she did, they remained poised and finally conquered their biggest nemesis. Making 11 of 29 from long range was critical.
UConn returns to American Athletic Conference play Saturday at Cincinnati.
Louisville resumes Atlantic Coast Conference play Saturday at Clemson.
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