LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville’s defense never rested as the Cardinals overwhelmed Chattanooga.
Dana Evans scored 18 points to lead No. 8 Louisville to an 86-37 victory over the Mocs on Thursday night.
Despite posting a season high in points, the Cardinals (4-0) were more impressive on defense. They held the Mocs to just 24.6% shooting, while forcing 18 turnovers, outrebounding their guests 59-28 and only committing 11 fouls.
That defensive effort allowed Louisville, which shot 34.9% in the first half, to go on a 15-2 run over a six-minute stretch in the second quarter and hold a 35-11 lead in the final minute of the half.
Chattanooga coach Katie Burrows said her players dribbled too much, allowing the Cardinals to contain them with pressure.
“Bottom line is that we didn’t do the things that we said we needed to do in order to compete,” Burrows said. “That’s the frustrating thing for me.”
Louisville warmed up from the field after halftime, shooting 58.8%.
Evans, a junior guard, made 8 of 12 shots. The point guard was particularly effective playing off the ball, scoring eight straight points from that position in the third quarter.
“That’s what she’s doing really well right now,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “She’s scoring the basketball.”
Kylee Shook posted her third consecutive double-double, going for 12 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Norika Konno added a career-high 11 points. Elizabeth Balogun added 11 rebounds to go with nine points.
Eboni Williams paced Chattanooga (1-6) with a season-high 18 points.
Chattanooga: The Mocs entered Thursday averaging just 52.3 points per game, which ranked 323rd in Division I, and faced a squad that had allowed opponents to shoot just 31.3%. The Cardinals’ quickness and pressure defense caused three scoring droughts of 3:51 or longer in the first half, which allowed Louisville to overcome its own offensive difficulties and still put the game away before halftime.
Louisville: Shooting woes continued for the Cardinals early on even though they faced a team that was allowing opponents to shoot 46%. Louisville shot 29.2% in the first quarter, thanks mainly to the Cardinals missing their first eight shots. Six of those came on layups or putbacks.
Louisville did nothing to hurt its standing in the AP Top 25. With a win Sunday, the Cardinals will remain in the top 10, where they have been every week since the start of the 2017-18 season.
Walz said he told Elizabeth Dixon that when she made a layup, he would call timeout. Sure enough, when the sophomore got a putback with 1:06 left in the third quarter, Walz called time and the 6-foot-5 forward smiled as her teammates mobbed her near the Cardinals bench.
To say the last three games had been a struggle for the Georgia Tech transfer would be an understatement. After posting 10 points and 13 rebounds against Western Kentucky in the opener, Dixon had made just 1 of 15 shots before getting the putback and lost her starting spot to Shook on Thursday.
She finished with eight points and seven rebounds Thursday, making 3 of 5 shots in the second half.
Dixon, a former McDonald’s All-American, was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference freshman last year, averaging 11 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Getting production out of her and Shook in the post will be crucial for the Cardinals, Walz said.
“I’m hoping this kind of gives her a little bit of confidence to get going,” he said.
Chattanooga hosts Austin Peay on Sunday
Louisville hosts Boise State on Sunday. It will be the last home game for the Cardinals until Dec. 29, when they open ACC play against Syracuse.
More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/Womensbasketball and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25