UNCASVILLE, Connecticut (AP) – Jeff Walz’s teams in Louisville had never beaten UConn in Connecticut.
It’s a sequence he won’t have to talk about anymore.
Hailey Van Lith scored 10 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter and the No.6 Cardinals outlasted the No.7 UConn 69-64 in the Women’s Hall of Fame showcase at the Mohegan Sun on Sunday.
Kianna Smith also scored 16 points for the Cardinals (10-1), who trailed for much of the game but outscored the injury-ridden Huskies 27-19 in the final 10 minutes. Ahlana Smith added 11 points for the Cardinals.
“I know what everybody’s going to say, that they were shorthanded and everything,” Walz said. “And they had injuries, there’s no doubt about it. But it’s still a really good ball club and I was really happy with the way we fought, the way we held on.
Rookie Caroline Ducharme recorded a record 24 points and eight rebounds to lead UConn (6-3), who was playing his third straight game without injured star Paige Bueckers. Dorka Juhasz added 15 points and Christyn Williams has 10.
This is the first time UConn has lost three games before January in one season since 2004.
Louisville trailed the entire first half and only took its first lead when Kianna Smith hit a jumper to make it 29-28 just under two minutes into the third quarter. It was part of a 7-0 Cardinals run to open halftime.
Ducharme scored back-to-back baskets to give UConn a 52-51 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals took control from there.
A 3-point Van Lith gave them a 57-52 lead with just under 3 minutes to go, and UConn couldn’t come more than three points the rest of the way.
“They just hit the punches they needed to hit,” Durcharme said. “We were fighting the whole game. I don’t think it was because of the number of people we had.
UConn, who was playing in front of a partisan crowd about 30 miles south of campus, scored 12 of the game’s first 14 points. They were leading 16-9 after a quarter and 28-25 after 20 minutes.
“We knew they were going to do a race and then we were going to do a race and we just had to deal with that,” said Kianna Smith.
Louisville: The Cardinals have now won 10 straight games and finish the non-conference game of their season 3-1 against the ranked competition with wins over UConn, Michigan and Kentucky. The loss came in early November in overtime to Arizona.
UConn: The Huskies only have eight healthy players. Bueckers is likely out until mid-February at the earliest after undergoing knee surgery last week. Goalkeepers Nika Mühl (right foot), Azzi Fudd (right foot) could be ready for UConn’s next game. There is still no schedule for junior forward Aubrey Griffin, who suffers from back pain.
“Now the thing is when we’re healthy… hanging out with better individuals and our team being better,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.
Walz is now 2-15 against the Huskies as a Louisville head coach. The other victory came in Louisville in January 2019. Walz’s teams were 0-8 against UConn in games played in Connecticut since taking over in the 2007-08 season.
Olivia Cochran, who suffered from a concussion, did not start for Louisville but came off the bench. She played 23 minutes and scored eight points.
UConn seniors Olivia Nelson-Ododa (five points), Evina Westbrook (six points) and Williams combined to be just 9 of 28 off the floor.
“We obviously needed more help than Caroline was providing,” said Auriemma. “We needed more help from more people, for sure. “
The Huskies’ No.7 ranking is the lowest since January 2007, and UConn could come out of the Top 10 with the loss. The Cardinals are expected to stay near the top of the poll.
Louisville: until December 30, when they will host Boston College.
UConn: host Marquette on December 29.
(Photo by Jeff Walz, Geno Auriemma: Sam Upshaw Jr. – Courier Journal via Imgn Content Services, LLC)
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