Kianna Smith scores 18; No. 3 Louisville beats BC, 63-53

Jan 15, 2022, 9:19 PM | Updated: Jan 16, 2022, 12:36 pm
Boston College forward Maria Gakdeng (5) looks to pass under pressure from Louisville guard Mykasa ...

Boston College forward Maria Gakdeng (5) looks to pass under pressure from Louisville guard Mykasa Robinson (5) and Chelsie Hall (23) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

BOSTON (AP) — Louisville’s signature is defense. That’s all the third-ranked Cardinals needed to get them going on a tough day against Boston College.

Kianna Smith scored 18 points, Hailey Van Lith added 16 and No. 3 Louisville grinded out a 63-53 victory over BC on Sunday.

The Cardinals (15-1, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) haven’t lost since dropping their season-opener to then-No. 22 Arizona in overtime.

Louisville’s 15-game winning streak is the longest in the country.

Cardinals coach Jeff Walz earned his 400th career victory in his 15th season with the school.

“I’m not going to downplay it,” he said. “But at the same time, we’ve got a great staff and we were able to go out and sell our basketball program. … Reality is reality, I haven’t scored a point or made a stop.”

Taylor Soule led Boston College (12-5, 3-3) with 17 points and Cameron Swartz had 12. The Eagles had their four-game winning streak snapped.

Both teams played tough man-to-man defense and made running half-court offense very difficult. Louisville held Boston College to 37.5% shooting.

“It was hard for any team to get into a flow,” said Walz, who improved to 400-109 with the only school he’s been a head coach for in his career.

The Cardinals pushed a seven-point halftime lead to 37-25 on Smith’s 3-pointer early in the third quarter before the Eagles went on an 8-0 run.

BC’s bench was whistled for a technical with 1.3 seconds left in the third quarter and Van Lith hit both free throws, giving Louisville a 48-39 lead at the break.

The Eagles never got the deficit below nine points in the final quarter.

Louisville, which trailed by 10 points after the first quarter, relied on its defense which came in ranked second in the nation allowing just 69.6 pointer per game.

The Cardinals got their offense started, too, during a 13-1 spurt to open the second quarter, taking their first lead of the game on Chelsie Hall’s left-wing jumper and never trailed again.

“I thought our energy on defense is what changed,” Walz said. “We were trying to attack them and get some ball screens. We did a good job of that, but it all started because we guarded.”

They outscored BC 22-5 in the second quarter.

The Eagles had turned poor shooting by Louisville into a handful easy transition baskets in the opening quarter, pulling to a 20-10 advantage after one.

“I think in the first quarter we came out and pushed really hard in transition,” Swartz said.

QUICK TURNAROUND

The Cardinals shot only 33% (5 of 15) in the first quarter and didn’t make a basket from outside the lane.

In the second, they connected on three shots from beyond the arc and nailed another outside jumper during a 3 1/2 -minute stretch en route to their 32-25 halftime edge. They hit 9-of-16 shots overall in the second.

BIG PICTURE

Louisville: Faced with an early challenge, the Cardinals showed what makes them click — its their defense. They pressed most of the time, pressured the ball handers well and continually contained penetration by the guards, which can make getting into an offensive set hard for their opponents.

Boston College: With all five starters back from last season, the Eagles look like they’ll be a tough out in any game. … They were a lot more competitive than their first meeting against the Cardinals in Louisville, when they lost by 30 points on Dec. 30. “Being in the locker room, you can hear the talk of the girls and the confidence that’s coming out from this game,” Swartz said. “It’s not only that we lost only by 10. We know that we’re better. … We are the better team in the ACC when we play right. That’s what we have the opportunity to do and that’s what we’re going to do.”

UP NEXT

Louisville: At North Carolina State on Thursday night.

Boston College: Hosts Notre Dame on Thursday night, its second of a three-game homestand.

____

More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Kianna Smith scores 18; No. 3 Louisville beats BC, 63-53