LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Dana Evans understands her role for No. 4 Louisville is to provide a spark off the bench. The sophomore guard did that and more Saturday.
Evans scored a career-high 21 points and tied her career best with four steals to lead the Cardinals to a 92-59 victory over Northern Kentucky. It’s the seventh time in Louisville’s last eight games that the former McDonald’s All-American reached double figures.
Coach Jeff Walz said Evans could easily start for the Cardinals (11-0), which lost just one player from last year’s Final Four squad. However, he added that he has a senior point guard in Arica Carter, who starts and keeps things steady.
“Then I throw Dana in the game and she just turns things up,” he said.
Evans, who made 8 of 12 shots and added six assists, scored 10 of her points in the first half. She finished with two fast break baskets in a 20-second span, making it 89-57 with 2:00 remaining, before leaving to a rousing ovation from the Yum Center crowd.
She was one of four players who scored in double figures for Louisville.
“It’s fun playing on a stacked team because there’s not pressure on just one person,” Evans said. “Everybody can do different things.”
Forwards Sam Fuehring and Kylee Shook scored 15 points each for the Cardinals. Shook, a junior reserve, added 11 rebounds for her fourth career double-double.
The Cardinals never trailed and led by as many as 28 points in the first half. Ten players scored for Louisville, which scored 80 or more points for its seventh straight game.
A 3-pointer by Grayson Rose with 4:08 left in the third quarter cut the Louisville lead to 59-41, but that’s as close as the Norse (1-6) got in the second half. The sophomore led Northern Kentucky, which lost its sixth straight, with 16 points. Sophomore Kailey Coffey added 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Louisville’s Asia Durr was held to a season-low 11 points and made just 4 of 13 shots. That leaves the senior guard 18 points from becoming the Cardinals’ fourth player to reach 2,000 points for her career.
Louisville’s performance should ensure it remains in the top four in next week’s AP Top 25, and the Cardinals may rise in the rankings after No. 11 Stanford beat third-ranked Baylor Saturday afternoon.
Northern Kentucky: The Norse came into this game having lost three contests by five points or fewer, but the Norse were clearly outmatched Saturday. They managed to outrebound the Cardinals 39-33, largely because of ineffective shooting, with 17 off the offensive glass. Northern Kentucky missed 14 of its first 18 shots and finished shooting 41.7 percent.
The Norse have just one senior and two juniors, and at one point, coach Camryn Whitaker had three freshmen and two sophomores on the court.
“We’re competing,” Whitaker said. “The kids played particularly hard. So, I’m just proud of the effort on the boards. We’ve been working on it all week.”
Louisville: The Cardinals entered ranked No. 6 in the country in shooting at 51.1 percent. They made 50.7 percent against the Norse, the sixth time in the last seven games the Cardinals have hit better than 50 percent from the field.
Northern Kentucky: The Norse travel to Providence next week to play in the Friar Holiday Classic. Their first game in the three-day, four-team event is Wednesday against La Salle.
Louisville: The Cardinals venture to Central Michigan, the nation’s seventh-best shooting team, Thursday. It’ll be Louisville’s last game before starting Atlantic Coast Conference play on Jan. 3 when North Carolina comes to town.
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