LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Asia Durr’s first basket was just a matter of time and the right look. When it came from long range, two more soon followed to push No. 3 Louisville past No. 2 Connecticut.
Most important for the Cardinals, they didn’t let up on the Huskies. That led to a long-sought victory against the dominant team in women’s college basketball and a long, loud celebration between players and their fans.
Durr scored 14 of her 24 points in the second quarter, Dana Evans added 20 points, and Louisville held UConn to 38 percent shooting in a 78-69 victory Thursday night.
The Cardinals (20-1) achieved their initial goal by keeping the Huskies within reach without a point from Durr, a senior guard who sat out Sunday’s rout of Pittsburgh to rest a sore knee. She eventually made 8 of 18 field goals, with her perimeter shots coming just when Louisville needed them.
After starting 0 for 4 from the field, Durr made three consecutive 3s to open the second quarter and put the Cardinals up, 32-24.
“I had great looks, even when the ball didn’t go in,” Durr said.
Louisville Coach Jeff Walz made sure to encourage his best player, which eventually paid off for Durr and the Cardinals.
“Not only did that give her a little confidence, I think her teammates heard that, too,” Walz said.
Evans scored 12 points in the second half, hitting a 3-pointer with 1 minute 55 seconds remaining for a 70-59 lead.
Jazmine Jones and Sam Fuehring followed with two free throws each for a 13-point lead, and the Cardinals added four more from the line in the final 1:30. Jones finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Fuehring added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Louisville ended a 17-game losing streak in the series and won its sixth in a row over all.
“It was a great win for sure,” said Evans, who made 5 of 10 from long range, as did Durr. “It was something we’ve been working for, and we stayed focused, we played together tonight and came out with the win.”
The win sealed the Cardinals’ first series victory against UConn (18-2) since their inaugural meeting in the 1993 N.C.A.A. tournament.
Napheesa Collier had 20 points, and Crystal Dangerfield added 19 for the Huskies. They had won their previous seven since losing at Baylor.
UConn was 7 of 22 from the field in the fourth quarter and was outrebounded, 46-40.
“We struggled with their versatility and being able to attack in so many different ways,” said UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson, a senior guard who had 16 points. “We weren’t hitting shots that we normally do, and we weren’t finishing that great. We still have to pick it up.”
The Huskies started off well but led by only 4, which turned out to be their last edge all night. It soon became a game of catch-up once Durr started hitting shots, a quest that was hurt by several droughts of at least two minutes. The Huskies also missed a lot of layups and a few free throws that could have helped.
“There was a stretch in the third quarter where I thought it got away from us,” Coach Geno Auriemma said. “We made a lot of mistakes defensively, and they took advantage of every one of them. Every time we made a mistake, they got a bucket.”
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