LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — As Louisville draws closer toward matching the best start in program history, coach Jeff Walz quickly warns that his team is a long way from being as good as their record might suggest.
Credit the Cardinals for at least showing resilience, which they needed often against Central Florida.
Shoni Schimmel scored 27 points and Sara Hammond added 22 as No. 5 Louisville beat the Knights 75-56 Wednesday night for its 10th straight victory.
Bria Smith added 10 points as the Cardinals (17-1, 5-0 American Athletic Conference) matched their best 18-game start since the 2008-09 team that began 19-1 and went on to reach the NCAA championship game. This victory took work throughout as Louisville overcame a slow start to build a 23-point lead early in the second half, a cushion that came in handy after the determined Knights (8-8, 1-4) rallied to within 66-55 with 2½ minutes remaining.
Though the Cardinals survived UCF, Walz said there's plenty of room for improvement.
"We're just not at the point where they'll challenge each other," he said. "They're great young ladies. They really like each other. It's probably the best team chemistry I've been a part of in a long time.
"But at the same time, we don't have that person on the floor that's challenging each other, (saying) 'It's unacceptable to not box out. We need you to box out'. ... And that's what we're really trying to find right now."
Schimmel was just 8 of 22 from the field and 5 of 14 from 3-point range, but made several baskets including one from long range with 40 seconds left to seal the game. The senior guard overtook Jazz Covington for third place on the Cardinals' career scoring list.
Sara Djassi scored a career-high 28 points for the Knights, who shot 35 percent (19 of 55) but still were within reach late before losing their fourth in a row and seventh of eight.
"That was the big thing coming in," UCF coach Joi Williams said of her team's approach. "We know Louisville is an outstanding team. We talked about competing for the whole game. We felt like our last time out we didn't compete very well. We talked about competing every possession and playing hard."
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