LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Plagued by early foul trouble and missing its head coach, South Florida challenged No. 5 Louisville early before falling to the Cardinals.
Tia Gibbs led Louisville with 19 points — one of four players in double-digit scoring — and the Cardinals tallied their 15th straight win, tying the program’s longest win streak set in 2006-07.
Assistant coach Jeff Osterman took over duties for head coach Jose Fernandez, who did not travel with team due to illness.
Courtney Williams led USF with 17 points. Akila McDonald had 11 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Alisia Jenkins, Shavontae Naylor and Inga Orekhova each collected three fouls by halftime. Orekhova, who finished with 16 points, played sparingly in the second half after getting her fourth foul.
“That just changes the dynamic,” Osterman said. “It took us out of a couple of things we had game-planned for.”
USF outrebounded Louisville 42-39, but had just four offensive rebounds in the first half.
“They hurt us in the first half on the glass,” Osterman said.
Antonita Slaughter had 12 points and Asia Taylor had 10 rebounds for Louisville.
Schimmel, third in the AAC averaging 18.4 points, had 14 and was 3 of 9 from beyond the arc.
It was Gibbs who provided the spark from long-range for Louisville, making 5 of 7 3s.
“Shoni is one of the best in the country, but when she has an off night, you have Gibbs, you have a Slaughter, then the Taylor-(Sara) Hammond combo inside and then the kids off the bench,” Osterman said. “It just makes them a great team.”
The Bulls kept it close early as Louisville got off to a slow start. The Cardinals were 1 of 11 from the field — including 0 for 6 from three-point range — but picked up speed midway through the first half.
“I thought we had very good shots, they just weren’t going in, but we continued to defend,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said.
After missing her first six shot attempts, Schimmel made a short jumper to put Louisville (22-1, 10-0 AAC) up 22-16 with 7:53 left in the first half.
USF (11-10, 6-4) fell behind by 10 but rallied. After Walz was called for a technical foul, the Bulls scored seven unanswered points capped by a three-pointer by Orekhova to make it 32-28 with 4:28 left.
Schimmel and Slaughter responded with back-to-back three-pointers, and Louisville closed out the first half on a 13-0 run to lead 45-28 at halftime.
USF embarked on another rally in the second half when Orekhova hit a three-pointer to make it 48-35. Gibbs quieted the run by making three straight 3s.
The Bulls were hampered by 20 turnovers, which resulted in 27 points for Louisville.
“It was a choppy game,” Osterman said. “I thought we turned it over too much. We just left too many plays out there to a great team.”
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