CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — Olivia Cochran scored 17 points and Dana Evans added 15 to help No. 5 Louisville beat Southeast Missouri State 74-53 on Wednesday in the opener for both teams.
The Cardinals were originally supposed to play Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, but that game was canceled because of coronavirus issues. Louisville coach Jeff Walz took to social media and a group text chat he had set up with about 25 coaches to try and find a replacement game. He scheduled the contest against Southeast Missouri State a few days ago.
“I was really appreciative for (them) to make this happen,” Walz said. “For us to go on the road, it was a good win. ... We’re at a point right now in college basketball in general, you got to get as many games in as quick as you can since there’s so much uncertainty. I saw games canceled today that were on as of last night. You've got to make the most of it and that’s what we’re trying to do."
The Redhawks also had their original game that was supposed to be played Wednesday canceled because of COVID-19.
Southeast Missouri State hung tough in the first quarter as the Cardinals only led 18-16 after one. Louisville then turned up its defense to extend the advantage to 38-24 at the half.
“I thought we did a really nice job in the second quarter defensively to create some offense for us," Walz said. "We’ll have to do that throughout the entire year.”
The lead grew to 17 at the start of the third quarter on a 3-pointer by freshman Hailey Van Lith before the Redhawks cut it to 45-39 with just over four minutes left in the period on a jumper by Tesia Thompson.
Louisville then scored 11 of the final 13 points in the period to put the game away. Cochran had seven of them.
Thompson finished with 21 points for the Redhawks.
REBOUNDING BY COMMITTEE
With Louisville's three main rebounders from last season having graduated, Walz said rebounding will more of a group effort this season.
“We don't have the size ... that we had in the past. We'll have to team rebound the basketball,” he said.
The Cardinals had a 50-36 advantage in rebounds against the Redhawks.
Southeast Missouri State has lost all three meetings with Louisville. The teams last played in the preseason WNIT in 2017. The Cardinals were the first ranked opponent to visit Southeast Missouri State since Baylor came to the Show Me Center in 2007. ... Walz improved to 12-2 in season openers, including victories in the last five.
Louisville: Visits Cincinnati on Saturday.
Southeast Missouri State: Host University of Health Sciences & Pharmacy on Dec. 1.
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