Van Lith leads Louisville women to 83-51 route of Albany

LOUISVILLE, Ky. ( Associated Press) — Hailey Van Lith scored 17 of her 20 points in the first half and top-seeded Louisville never looked back as the Cardinals routed Albany 83-51 in a first round women’s NCAA Tournament game Friday.

Louisville (26-4) used runs of 13-0, 14-0 and 9-0 in the first half to build a 48-20 halftime lead. The Great Danes (23-10) came into the tournament allowing just 48.6 points per game, the second-best defense in the country.

Emily Engstler added 17 points, seven rebounds and seven steals.

Louisville shot 52.4%, with Kianna Smith adding 15 points – all in the first half. Defensively, the Cardinals forced Albany into tying a season high with 26 turnovers.

Kayla Cooper led the Great Danes with 14 points, and Ellen Hahne added 11.

The Cardinals will face Gonzaga in a second-round matchup Sunday. Louisville has advanced to the Sweet 16 in every NCAA Tournament since 2017 and in 10 of the last 12 tourneys.


Moments before the tip, new Louisville men’s basketball coach Kenny Payne received a loud standing ovation as he made his way to his seats a couple rows behind the Cardinals bench.

That wasn’t the only news for Louisville on Friday. The school also announced an extension for women’s coach Jeff Walz that will carry through to the 2028-29 season.

Currently in his 15th season, Walz is the program’s all-time winningest coach with a record of 411-112.


Albany: The Great Danes came in at less than 100%. Lucia Decortes, one of two seniors on the squad, missed her second straight game due to a leg injury. The 6-3 forward was the tallest player on the team, and without her presence, Louisville enjoyed a 44-24 scoring advantage inside the paint.

Louisville: Determined to move past their failure to closeout against Miami in the ACC tournament quarterfinal, the Cardinals never let up on Friday. The second-half lead never dropped below 25 points. However, a more physical team awaits in Gonzaga, a squad that could cause problems for Louisville.


More Associated Press coverage of March Madness: and and


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