Asia Durr dominant as Lady Toppers fall to Louisville

Louisville senior guard Asia Durr (25) sets up Louisville’s offense in WKU’s 102-80 loss to the Cardinals in Diddle Arena Tuesday. Durr scored 33 points in U of L’s win. 

Drake Kizer

WKU women’s basketball began the regular season with a 102-80 loss against No. 5 Louisville Tuesday ­in the 36th Annual BB&T Classic, which dropped the Lady Toppers to 0-1.

The Lady Toppers stayed within striking distance in the first half, but they were unable to maintain their composure as the game progressed, which resulted in a lopsided defeat during head coach Greg Collins’ first career regular season game.

“The focus is on at the end of the season being at your best,” Collins said. “Right now, I’m happy with where we are getting up and down the court. I think we do a good job with that. We got up and down the court with Louisville tonight…[and] they’re one of the best transition teams in the country.”

The Lady Toppers were led by redshirt juniors Alexis Brewer and Dee Givens, who scored 22 and 18 points, respectively. WKU’s leading rebounder, sophomore forward Raneem Elgedawy, nearly notched a double-double, scoring 14 points in addition to grabbing nine rebounds.

“I felt good about my performance, but I also don’t feel good about it because we lost,” Brewer said. “So, I’d rather have less points and win the game.”

Cardinals head coach Jeff Walz said he had a lot of people in Louisville tell him to say hello to Collins when he saw him, which Walz saw as a reflection of Collins’ character and the impression he made during his tenure as an assistant at U of L from 2002-2007.

“I think he’s a brilliant basketball mind,” Walz said. “I think he knows what he’s doing. He’s going to have this program continuing to succeed, there’s no doubt at all. It’s fun to watch.”

The Cardinals got off to a hot start, beginning the game on a 15-2 run. Senior guard Asia Durr, an AP preseason All-American, scored all of U of L’s first 11 points. As the quarter wore on, the Lady Toppers were able to slow down the Cardinals a bit. WKU got to the foul line, making 7-of-9 attempts, and also went on a 9-0 run of their own in the waning moments of the first period.

After beginning the second period trailing 32-21, the Lady Toppers continued to chip away at U of L’s lead. WKU went on an 8-0 run late in the quarter, trimming their deficit to only five points. But the Cardinals halted that run with a 3-pointer and later extended their lead back to 11. The Lady Toppers went into halftime trailing 54-43.

Redshirt junior guard Alexis Brewer led the Lady Toppers with 14 points in the first half. Sophomore forward grabbed four rebounds, while junior guard Whitney Creech and Brewer tied for the team lead in assists with two each at the half.

After conceding a significant portion of their lead late in the second quarter, U of L absolutely dominated the third period, holding the Lady Toppers to only eight points in 10 minutes of clock time. The Cardinals established a great deal of separation in the period, going on a 22-2 run at one point. Durr also continued padding her stat line, adding 12 points and three rebounds for U of L.

Durr finished as the game’s leading scorer, pouring in 33 points in only 21 minutes.

“Well we came out in the second half and [U of L] got out of the full-court stuff,” Collins said. “And then we weren’t able to score, so we couldn’t press. And then we didn’t rebound, so we couldn’t run. And so, we were having trouble getting up and down the floor.”

After being outscored 31-8 during the third, the Lady Toppers actually outscored the Cardinals 29-17 in the fourth quarter. It was not enough, however, as the Cardinals still coasted to a 22-point victory over WKU. The Cardinals finished the game shooting 56 percent from the floor and 47 percent from the 3-point line.

“Once they started hitting shots, I felt like…some people just kind of gave up,” Givens said. “And then after that they just kept hitting more shots and more shots so I think our confidence just went down from there.”

The Lady Toppers were able to get to the foul line at a very high rate during the game, shooting 35 total free throws while U of L only shot 11. However, the Lady Toppers could not overcome the Cardinals’ size advantage, as they were out-rebounded 40 to 32. The Lady Toppers shot 39 percent from the field and made 74 percent of their foul shots for the game.

The Lady Toppers will travel to Norman, Oklahoma, on Friday for their next contest. WKU will square off against Oklahoma, a NCAA Tournament team from a season ago.

Sports reporter Drake Kizer can be reached at 270-745-2653 and [email protected]. Follow Drake on Twitter at @drakekizer_.