Engstler leads No. 4 Louisville women past Pitt, 66-55
Feb 24, 2022, 3:13 AM | Updated: 6:23 pm
(AP Photo/Rebecca Droke)
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The first half did not go according to plan for No. 4 Louisville at Pittsburgh.
The Cardinals knew Pitt would be aggressive on the glass and try to outwork Louisville in the paint to make up for its poor shooting.
Knowing about that plan ahead of time didn’t stop it from nearly working. The Panthers kept the the Cardinals’ offense in check throughout the first half on Thursday night and twice tied the game in the third quarter before Louisville pulled away for a 66-55 win.
Emily Engstler had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Cardinals (24-3, 15-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won two in a row since losing last week at then-No. 24 North Carolina.
The Cardinals weren’t happy they allowed Pitt (11-17, 2-15) to hang around.
“The game shouldn’t have been as close as it was,” senior forward Liz Dixon said. “We knew that they were going to be a rebounding team. The goal was to rebound and not foul. We were not handling business at all.”
Pitt, which lost its eighth straight, couldn’t find an answer for Engstler. The senior forward was a force in the paint and scored 11 points in the second half as Louisville finally put the Panthers away.
“I love when Em does that,” Dixon said. “It’s just a big jump for us. … If she wins, we win.”
Hailey Van Lith had 13 points and was the lone long-range option with any success on a tough shooting night for the Cardinals. She hit 2 of 6 on 3-pointers; the rest of the Cardinals were 0 for 10 from long range.
Liatu King led the Panthers with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Amber Brown and Destiny Strother also scored 11 apiece.
Pitt had trouble with the Louisville press throughout and turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 20 Louisville points.
“Whenever we’re able to get shots up and we have a chance for a shot or rebound we can play with most teams,” Pitt coach Lance White said. “Whenever we didn’t throw it to them, we had great offense.”
Louisville: The loss to North Carolina and the relatively close call against lowly Pitt, which Louisville beat by 42 earlier this season, give the Cardinals an impression of vulnerability entering the ACC tournament.
“I’d rather play bad and win than play good and lose, because you can do that, as well,” coach Jeff Walz said. “Is there room for improvement? Of course. Should they be upset? Yeah, they should. But at the same time, you don’t ever want to take for granted a win.”
Pitt: The Panthers are still looking for consistent scoring following the midseason dismissal of top offensive threat Jayla Everrett. Pitt shot 30.2% against the Cardinals, its third consecutive game shooting worse than 40%.
Dixon was a spark off the bench, scoring all seven of her points during a 9-2 Louisville run in the third quarter that put the Cardinals up by 10 for the first time.
The senior played 12 minutes and Walz said she’s earned more playing time going forward.
Pitt had 53 rebounds to Louisville’s 41, which helped the Panthers overcome poor shooting and stymied Louisville’s offense.
“We have to get more help from our guards,” Walz said. “We couldn’t run. We couldn’t get anything going in transition.”
Louisville: At No. 14 Notre Dame on Sunday to wrap up the regular season. The Cardinals defeated the Fighting Irish 73-47 on Feb. 13 in Louisville.
Pitt: Finishes the 2021-22 season with a home game against Florida State on Saturday, when the team will honor senior Mary Dunn.
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