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Louisville Hands #23 Washington First Loss 59-51

Syndication: The Courier-Journal Scott Utterback/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

In the opening minutes of the game Louisville jumped out to a 10-2 lead. Then the Cards were stuck on 10 until 39 seconds left in the 1st quarter. Fortunately they were able to hold the Huskies to only 13 as well. A critical run was when Louisville held the Huskies scoreless from the 1:54 mark at the end of the first half until the 6:53 in the third quarter. That enabled the Cards to build a 10 point lead and that was enough to keep Washington fighting from behind the rest of the way.

Olivia Cochran led the Cards in scoring with 14 and she added 7 rebounds. Nyla Harris had 11 points and 4 rebounds. Kiki Jefferson had 8 points and 8 rebounds.

Coach Walz said, “In stretches I thought we were really good and then in stretches we’re just bad and that’s what we’ve got to fix. You can’t go from organized and executing to just complete chaos with the same group on the floor.” However he added, “When you don’t play your best and you still figure out a way to win I’ll take that.”

Coach Walz said, “We knew we’d have an advantage in the paint just with our physicality.” He lauded the play of Nyla, “She was always around the ball. I was really pleased with the way she continued to fight.... She’s relentless when it comes to trying to go for a rebound and she came up with a few big ones there for us.”

Nyla said, “Once I get one [basket] the adrenaline starts going.... and I have a lot of energy so those rebounds are momentum rebounds.” She added, “Those buckets that I got tonight I wouldn’t have been able to do last year because I had to figure out ways to finish with contact instead of just going straight up.”

Coach Walz also praised the play of Nina Rickards. “She really played well in that first half and gave a lift and that’s what we’re going to continue to need from her. She had 4 boards, 5 steals, and she’s handling the ball a ton and only turned it over 1 time so we’re going to need her to continue to play at that level as we move forward because every game’s a battle now.”

Louisville now takes a break for the holidays. Olivia Cochran said, “Right now I’m going to go home and rest my body because I need it but still doing what I need to do to be in shape for my teammates.” Nyla added, “Yes we have a long stretch but we’re going to go home and get a moment of clarity for our minds to get ready for what’s ahead of us.”

Next up Louisville opens ACC play on the road against Miami. The game is on Sunday, December 31st at 4PM on the ACC Network.