LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — With Louisville ahead but not fully in control, its best players took charge to close out Wake Forest.
Dana Evans scored 20 points, Jazmine Jones scored 10 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter and the No. 7 Cardinals topped the Demon Deacons 75-61 on Sunday for their eighth consecutive victory.
The Cardinals (16-1, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) never trailed after the early minutes and built a 19-point lead just after halftime behind a 14-0 run over the second and third quarters. Louisville needed that cushion as the Demon Deacons (10-6, 3-2) closed to 51-44 late in the third and entered the fourth down 55-47.
Three layups by Jones sandwiched around one by Evans put Louisville up by 14 with 6 minutes left. Jones added two free throws and another layup while Evans scored the Cardinals’ final five points.
“I was just moving without the ball and being aggressive,” said Jones, who made 8 of 10 from the field, grabbed six rebounds and had five assists.
Louisville shot 47% and outscored Wake Forest 10-0 on the fast break, which wasn’t easy considering the resistance presented by the Demon Deacons.
“They had a good defensive plan,” said Evans, who was 6 of 15 shooting and had nine assists. “Once we got in our sets, we were really good because we had a lot of movement. But they would go from man to zone and zone to man, and it had us confused. We didn’t get a lot of open looks tonight.”
Kylee Shook had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Elizabeth Balogun scored 10 for the Cardinals. They scored 28 points off 18 Wake turnovers, including 21-0 before halftime, to improve to 6-0 all-time against the Demon Deacons.
Wake Forest forward Ivana Raca had 16 points and 10 rebounds for her third consecutive double-double. Christina Morra had 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Alex Sharp had 12 points and seven boards for the Demon Deacons.
Wake Forest had won three straight and entered in a four-way tie for second behind Louisville in the ACC standings.
Jones made a standout play in the first quarter with an off-balance, one-handed steal near the sideline that she somehow deflected to teammate Bionca Dunham while falling into the media table. She quickly recovered and ran downcourt for Dunham’s feed and finished with a layup during a 14-3 run that put Louisville ahead.
“Bionca was right there and she got it back to me and I took down the court,” Jones said. “Nobody stopped the ball, so I just took right in for a layup.”
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons did many things right, shooting 6 of 13 from long range, outscoring Louisville 16-6 in second-chance points and controlling the boards 42-32. But they were beaten 46-28 in the paint, while their first-half turnover issues allowed the Cardinals to seize the lead for good.
“Second half, I thought we kind of adjusted and took care of the ball and outrebounded them, and that’s one of the things we talked about,” Wake Forest coach Jen Hoover said. “They came out and executed and I thought our kids really fought. We just weren’t always smart, unfortunately.”
Louisville: The Cardinals’ recent pattern in league play of scraping by at home following lopsided road wins ended with a double-digit victory. But it took some work and defense was key. They frequently turned Wake Forest over and took advantage on the other end.
“I thought we started with great focus,” coach Jeff Walz said. “I thought we defended extremely well. What took place there was, we held them at nine and 14 (points) and then gave up 24 in the third quarter. Defensively, we just weren’t very good. And we have to work on that.”
Louisville could move up following top-ranked UConn’s loss to No. 6 Baylor, which figures to reshuffle the top 10.
Wake Forest hosts Virginia on Thursday night.
Louisville begins a two-game road stretch Thursday night at Boston College.
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