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ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) – Louisville coach Jeff Walz wasn’t about to overstate the significance of beating the country’s top-ranked team during a late November tournament in the Caribbean.
The eighth-ranked Cardinals handed No. 1 Oregon its first loss of the season, getting 18 points and 15 rebounds from Kylee Shook in a 72-62 victory Saturday in the Paradise Jam.
“It’s just a great win … but at the same time, it’s not putting us in the Final Four,” Walz said. “It’s a win in November. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got to get better. But, it shows our kids that if you follow the scouting reports and play hard and play aggressive like we did tonight, we can play with anybody.”
Satou Sabally scored 21 points to lead four players in double figures for the Ducks (6-1), who led by as many as 11 points early before Louisville took control.
Minyon Moore added 15 points, Sabrina Ionescu scored 13 and Ruthy Hebard had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Oregon, which trailed by nine points entering the fourth quarter.
The Ducks managed to close within six points twice, the last at 66-60 on Ionescu’s 3-pointer with 1:32 left. Evans and Jones made 6 of 6 free throws to give Louisville some breathing room down the stretch.
“They wanted it more than us, basically, and they played like it,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “They were more intense and physical, and we got out of the way we want to play or normally play. We got very 1-on-1-minded, and we’re just not built that way. We were completely out of sync, and credit them for doing a good job of getting us out of sync.”
The Ducks had control in the first quarter, racing to a 24-13 lead by the end of the period on Ionescu’s layup with 48 seconds left.
However, the Cardinals rallied in the second quarter to tie the game twice, the last at 32-32 on Balogun’s jumper with 1:40 left.
That began a 7-0 run by Louisville, with Evans’ 3-pointer 30 seconds later putting them ahead 35-32, and Shook’s layup gave the Cardinals a 37-32 halftime lead.
Louisville stretched its lead to as many as 12 points in the third quarter, going up 44-32 on Noriko Konno’s jumper with 7:32 left, and were ahead 51-42 heading into the final period.
“We had our heads up, and coach gave us a great game plan,” Shook said. “We just went out knowing that to keep it close, we had to defend and we’ve got to execute and do our best.
“It was a little nerve-wracking when it got down to six points, but we just had to keep trying, stick to our game plan and try to match them and see where it gets us.”
Oregon: The Ducks are 1-1 against AP Top 25 opponents this season and 10-4 against ranked teams since the 2018-2019 season.
Louisville: The Cardinals snapped a five-game losing streak against top-ranked teams, with their last win coming against then-No. 1 Baylor, 82-81, in an NCAA regional in Oklahoma City on March 31, 2013. They are now 2-11 all-time against No. 1s.
There will likely be a new No. 1 team when the AP Top 25 poll comes out next week, but Oregon may not fall very far, while Louisville could make a big jump in the rankings – maybe even into the top five.
Louisville’s defense forced Oregon into 34.2% shooting, including 6 of 35 on 3-pointers. That was the key factor in the Ducks – who led the nation in scoring at 93 points per game – being held to a third below their average.
Oregon: Hosts South Dakota State on Sunday, Dec. 8.
Louisville: At Ohio State on Thursday.