MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis stayed close to Louisville for a half before losing sight of the Cardinals.
The Tigers (11-15, 4-10 American Athletic Conference) saw their single-digit deficit late in the half swell to 23 after 4 minutes of the second leading to an 82-66 victory for the No. 4 Cardinals on Sunday.
While Louisville hit a shot at the end of the first half to take a 41-30 lead at the break, a 14-2 rally to start the second half spelled the demise for Memphis
"It was that shot (at the end of the half) and the four shots at the beginning of the second half," Memphis coach Melissa McFerrin said. "I thought it started earlier than that actually. We gave up some three in transition. Not getting matched up. But there's no question that time period (spanning the halves), was huge. That was when the spread got pretty high."
Mooriah Rowser led Memphis with 20 points, and Pa'Sonna Hope added 18 and eight rebounds. Ariel Hearn scored 15 but the Tigers dropped their fifth straight.
Memphis had some success early getting the ball inside to Hope.
"We've been looking for a big night from her," McFerrin said. "We've been relying on two scorers for a long time, and that's not a good recipe for success. So, we were happy to get her comfortable."
But Hope's inside play couldn't offset the career-best 19 points from Louisville reserve Emmonnie Henderson.
"I thought she got the position she wanted," McFerrin said. "Let's face it, we don't carry as much mass as some other teams do when we go to the low block. I thought we let her get a quick step in there. I thought they very definitely were trying to take advantage of that mass difference on the block.
"We didn't recognize it soon enough to get into a front position, so we got buried.
Shoni Schimmel added 18 for Louisville and Asia Taylor scored 13. Henderson was 9 of 14 from the field, and Louisville shot 54 percent overall. Schimmel, who ranks second in the nation in 3-pointers per game, was 4 of 10 from outside the arc. Louisville which won its second straight and for the 18th time in 19 games, went 8 of 18 after starting 7 of 11.
But Louisville also committed 20 turnovers compared to 12 for Memphis. And while Walz was pleased with Henderson's scoring, he bristled at the fact that she had five, and, along with fellow frontline players Taylor and Sara Hammond, committed 12 of Louisville's 20 miscues. "They don't touch the ball enough to turn it over that much," he said.
"Offensively, she's talented," Walz said of Henderson, "but she's got to be able to learn to do more than just shoot. You can't turn it over five times."
The Cardinals defeated Memphis 88-61 in Louisville on Jan. 26 when Schimmel connected on nine 3-pointers. Memphis defenders concentrated on Schimmel early. Once Schimmel hit a pair of 3-pointers as part of the early second-half rally, the lead was enough for Louisville to coast.
"They were guarding me pretty close in the first half because they knew the last game I shot the ball well," Schimmel said. "I got my teammates going, and once that happened, it got me going. Then (Memphis) had to kind of guard them."
Schimmel said once the Cardinals put together the rally spanning the halves, they were able to impose their offense.
"We didn't necessarily put them away like we should have," Schimmel said, "but we got the W."