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Dana Evans and Kylee Shook both finished with double doubles for the Cardinals.
LEXINGTON, Ky. – A double-digit deficit was just the first in a series of gut checks No. 7 Louisville overcame to earn a close win over rival Kentucky.
Kylee Shook had a hand on both ends for the Cardinals, grabbing key rebounds before coming through twice with late clutch jumpers that claimed the edge.
Shook scored five consecutive points to put Louisville ahead, and the Cardinals withstood a late charge by No. 14 Kentucky for a hard-fought 67-66 victory on Sunday at Rupp Arena.
The Cardinals (10-1) rallied from a 55-45 third-quarter deficit with a 13-0 run entering the fourth and led 62-57 before Kentucky tied it on Rhyne Howard’s jumper.
Sabrina Haines made two of three free throws with 1:33 remaining and the Wildcats got a final chance after Dana Evans’ missed 3-pointer with 15 seconds left. Jazmine Jones then grabbed Howard’s 3-point attempt with three seconds left that bounced off the rim to preserve Louisville’s fourth straight win in the rivalry series.
”We did an unbelievable job of containing her (Howard) and then just trying to force others to make shots,” head coach Jeff Walz said. “It wouldn’t have surprised me if it had gone in.”
Shook finished with 11 points, including three 3-pointers, 13 rebounds and five blocks, but was more relieved to earn Bluegrass bragging rights on the home floor of Kentucky’s successful men’s basketball team.
”Kentucky’s always been a good team. To go 4-0 against our rival is great,” said Shook, who went 3 of 5 from behind the arc after entering shooting 3 of 14 overall.
”We were more concerned with Dana Evans,” said Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell. “She was shooting 50 percent from three and we didn’t want her to get into a rhythm. We don’t want to leave anybody wide open and that’s what happened a couple of times. You have to give her (Shook) credit. She made big shots.”
Evans made 7 of 14 from the field for 18 points and 10 assists. Jones and Bionca Dunham had 10 points each as Louisville dominated scoring in the paint 36-16.
Howard had 26 points for the Wildcats (10-1), who made 10 of 19 3-pointers. Tatyana Wyatt and Haines scored 12 each, while Keke McKinney had nine.
Louisville could move closer toward the top five with its second victory over a ranked opponent this season. Kentucky may not make a big drop in the poll but missed a chance to move closer to the top 10.
Louisville: The Cardinals could have faded in the third but steadily fought back to lead and then limit Kentucky in the fourth. They shot 33 percent from the field in the final quarter, but still managed to shoot 52 percent in Rupp Arena, where they clinched a Final Four berth in 2018. In a game where every little stat mattered, their 16-7 edge in offensive rebounds made a difference along with their 6-2 margin in fast-break points.
Kentucky: The Wildcats had a roller coaster day, trailing 21-16 after one quarter before outscoring the Cardinals 24-10 in the second to lead at the break. They were poised to break it open with a 10-point lead in the third before going scoreless for the final 3:14 and struggled in the fourth with 3 of 10 shooting, finishing 44 percent from the field. They were dominated 38-17 on the boards, including yielding the final rebound that sealed the loss.
Louisville concludes a four-game road swing at UT Martin on Thursday before starting ACC play against Syracuse on Dec. 29.
Kentucky wraps up 2019 on Saturday at California.