LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)Hailey Van Lith scored 28 points to lead No. 7 Louisville to an 87-68 victory over Cincinnati in Monday’s season opener for both teams.
The Cardinals broke the game open with a 15-0 first-quarter run and led 46-25 in the final minute of the first half.
Van Lith, a junior guard and a key contributor to last season’s Final Four run for Louisville, made 12 of 20 shots, including 6 of 9 in the first half. She scored nine points in Louisville’s big early run. Her 3-pointer with 1:28 left in the opening period gave the Cardinals a 24-7 lead.
Morgan Jones, a 6-foot-2 Florida State transfer, scored 14 points and blocked three shots in her Louisville debut. Liz Dixon, a 6-5 forward, added 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Sophomore Braylyn Milton led the Bearcats with a career-high 28 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Milton was perfect on five 3-point shots. Mya Jackson and A’riel Jackson added 12 points apiece.
The Cardinals shot 51.7% and outrebounded the Bearcats 39-27.
Cincinnati used a 17-4 spurt over a five-minute stretch in the second and third quarters to pull within eight points, but that was as close as it got in the second half. The Bearcats shot 43.4% and committed 24 turnovers but made 9 of 13 3-pointers.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats returned four players who started at least 12 games last season and nearly two-thirds of their points scored, but Cincinnati did not have the size or depth to stay with Louisville.
Louisville: The Cardinals unveiled their 2022 Final Four banner before the tip. If coach Jeff Walz and his team get back there this year, it will likely be due to the balanced scoring and size Louisville displayed on Monday.
Cincinnati has its home opener Thursday against Tennessee Tech.
Louisville hosts IUPUI on Thursday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25