UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Jeff Walz’s Louisville teams had never beaten UConn in Connecticut.
That’s one streak he won’t have to talk about again.
Hailey Van Lith scored 10 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter and the No. 6 Cardinals outlasted No. 7 UConn 69-64 in the Women’s Hall of Fame Showcase at the Mohegan Sun on Sunday.
Kianna Smith also scored 16 points for the Cardinals (10-1), who trailed for much of the game, but outscored the injury-riddled Huskies 27-19 over the final 10 minutes. Ahlana Smith added 11 points for the Cardinals.
“I know what everybody’s going to say, that they were shorthanded and everything,” Walz said. “And they’ve had some injuries, there’s no question about that. But, they’re still a pretty good ball club and I was really pleased with how we fought, how we hung in there.”
Freshman Caroline Ducharme had a season-high 24 points and eight rebounds to lead UConn (6-3), which was playing its third straight game without injured star Paige Bueckers. Dorka Juhasz added 15 points and Christyn Williams had 10.
This is the first time UConn has lost three games before January in a season since 2004.
Louisville trailed the entire first half and didn’t take its first lead until Kianna Smith hit a jumper to make it 29-28 just under two minutes into the third quarter. That was part of a 7-0 Cardinals run to open the half.
Ducharme scored consecutive baskets to put UConn up 52-51 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals took control from there.
A 3-pointer from Van Lith gave them a 57-52 lead with just under 3 minutes left, and UConn could not get closer than three points the rest of the way.
“They just hit the shots they needed to hit,” Durcharme said. “We were battling all game. I don’t think it was because of how many people we had.”
UConn, which was playing in front of a partisan crowd about 30 miles south of campus, scored 12 of the game’s first 14 points. They led 16-9 after a quarter and 28-25 after 20 minutes.
“We knew that they were going to make a run and then we were going to make a run and we just had to handle that,” Kianna Smith said.
Louisville: The Cardinals have now won 10 straight games and finish the nonconference portion of their season 3-1 against ranked competition with wins over UConn, Michigan and Kentucky. The loss came in early November in overtime to Arizona.
UConn: The Huskies have just eight healthy players. Bueckers is likely out until mid-February at the earliest after undergoing knee surgery last week. Guards Nika Muhl (right foot), Azzi Fudd (right foot) could be ready for UConn’s next game. There is still no timetable for junior forward Aubrey Griffin, who is struggling with a bad back.
“Now the trick is when we do get healthy … coming out with individuals being better and our team being better,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.
Walz is now 2-15 against the Huskies as Louisville’s head coach. The other win came in Louisville in January 2019. Walz’s teams had been 0-8 against UConn in games played in Connecticut since he took over in the 2007-08 season.
Olivia Cochran, who had been dealing with a concussion, did not start for Louisville, but came off the bench. She played 23 minutes and scored eight points.
UConn seniors Olivia Nelson-Ododa (five points), Evina Westbrook (six points) and Williams combined to go just 9 of 28 from the floor.
“We obviously needed more help than just what Caroline was providing,” Auriemma said. “We needed more help from more people, for sure.”
The Huskies’ No. 7 ranking is the lowest since January 2007, and UConn could fall out of the Top 10 with the loss. The Cardinals are expected to remain near the top of the poll.
Louisville: Off until Dec. 30, when they host Boston College.
UConn: Host Marquette on Dec. 29.