LAS VEGAS (AP) — Louisville coach Jeff Walz stood in disbelief as he watched Hartford guard Jabria Ingram take a half-court pass, dribble 40 feet and sink an uncontested jumper at the third-quarter buzzer.
“Are you kidding me?” Walz shouted at his players as they walked toward the bench.
It didn’t matter that his team was up 17 points. For a program that has Final Four aspirations each year, every possession counts, and Walz’s message got through in the second half.
Asia Durr scored a team-high 20 points, Dana Evans added 11 points and six assists as No. 5 Louisville overcame a sluggish start to beat Hartford 86-69 in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout.
“We’ll take the win,” said Walz, in his 12th season. “I’m never going to take a win back. But we were way too sloppy on the offensive end, turning it over 21 times. … We have to stay more focused and play an entire 40 minutes.”
Durr, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, made a pair on 3-pointers and finished 5 of 11 from the field for the Cardinals (5-0), who turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter and fell behind 24-16 early in the second.
A day earlier, Louisville overcame a late deficit to beat 19th-ranked Arizona State.
“Mentally, we just weren’t sharp,” Walz said. “We have to figure out a way to become more consistent.”
The Cardinals, who finished with a 21 turnovers, started showing that consistency in the second quarter. They took better care of the ball — only turning it over twice — and outscored the Hawks 37-18 to take control.
Evans’ layup with 5:26 in the second quarter tied the game at 31, and Sam Fuehring’s bucket 16 seconds later with gave the Cardinals the lead for good.
Louisville held Hartford without a field goal for the final 3:17 of the second quarter and went into halftime with a 53-36 lead. The Cardinals also got 21 of their 32 bench points in the first half.
“We didn’t really say anything (in the second quarter),” Walz said. “We just didn’t turn the ball over and we got some shots. It’s not a hard game when you get shots.
“I thought our bench played extremely well in the second. We’ve got to continue to get that kind of production.”
Fuehring went 8 of 8 from the free-throw line and scored 19 points, and Kylee Shook added 10 points and six boards for Louisville, which finished 27 of 50 from the floor (54 percent).
Hartford’s Sierra DaCosta led all scorers with 21 points. The junior guard made 7 of 10 shots from the floor and was 6 of 9 from the line.
Ella Awobajo had 12 points, and teammate Jade Young scored 11 for the Hawks.
Louisville: Yacine Diop, who left Friday’s game in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury, was held out of Saturday’s game. Louisville officials had no update on the redshirt senior, who is averaging 8.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
Hartford: The Hawks, second in the America East preseason poll, will look to get on track on their home court after losing four of five games.
Louisville (5-0) returns home to face Miami (Ohio) on Monday.
Hartford (2-5) will have five days off before hosting William & Mary on Friday.
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