It wasn’t exactly a work of art, but at least this time it was a win.
Just four days after seeing the program’s 39-game exhibition winning streak snapped by Lenoir-Rhyne, Louisville made the plays it needed to down the stretch in order to pull off an 80-73 win over Chaminade Thursday night inside the KFC Yum Center.
Leading the way for U of L was El Ellis, who managed to stay out of foul trouble and finished with a team-high 28 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists. Ellis, who played 38 minutes in the contest, scored nine straight Louisville points in the game’s closing minutes to help the home team avoid a second embarrassing exhibition defeat in as many tries.
Jae’Lyn Withers, who broke that personal streak by Ellis with a pair of free-throws, turned in another rock solid effort. He scored 17 points and tied with Sydney Curry for the team high in rebounds with nine.
Louisville led by 10 points at halftime but missed their first 10 shots after coming back out from the locker room. This allowed Chaminade to mount a 16-0 run that put them in front by six with 14:32 to play. The team’s exchanged blows for the remainder of the half before some strong inside play by JJ Traynor (12 points, 8 rebounds) and Ellis’ heroics allowed the Cards to find some separation.
Chaminade typically serves as the host team for the Maui Invitational, but in recent years the tournament has moved to a format where the Silverswords only participate in the event every other year. In those off years, Chaminade comes to the mainland to play three exhibition games against teams that are playing in the tournament later in the month. The Silverswords lost to Ohio State, 101-57, on Tuesday, and will play at Cincinnati on Monday.
The Cards will kick off the Kenny Payne era for real next Wednesday when they host reigning Atlantic Sun tournament champion Bellarmine at 9 p.m.