The University of Louisville women’s basketball team had a lull late in the first half of its opening game at the Big East Conference Tournament.
But a 15-2 start and strong finish helped propel the Cardinals to a 62-55 victory over St. John’s and a berth into the Big East semifinals at Hartford, Conn.
“It’s a physical game and I told them we were going to have to finish with some contact,” U of L coach Jeff Walz said. “Our players are starting to embrace that. We got away from it the last 12 minutes of the first half and that’s when they made their run. But out kids came out in the second half and did what we asked.”
Sophomore Sara Hammond led the No. 13 Cardinals with a career-high 22 points and 11 rebounds. Hammond hit 8 of 13 from the field and scored 10 of her points in the first five minutes of the game.
”She’s starting to get it,” Walz said of Hammond. “She has to use her size to get in there and cause some havoc with people.”
Louisville (24-7) hit just 2 of 19 from three-point range in the game but outrebounded St. John’s 31-26.
Bria Smith added 14 points, while Shoni Schimmel tacked on eight points and six assists for the Cardinals.
U of L will play Notre Dame on Monday at 6 p.m.