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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville kept its perfect record intact Thursday night thanks to a stretch coach Jeff Walz said was the best he's seen from his fourth-ranked team all season.
Asia Durr scored 25 points and Louisville overcame a first-half lull to beat Vanderbilt 79-57.
The Cardinals (10-0) held the Commodores scoreless for more than a quarter, turning a 33-29 deficit with 4:38 left in the first half into a 24-point lead with 3:56 left in the third. Rachel Bell made a 3-pointer with 3:28 left in the third period to end the Commodores' drought.
In that 10:32 stretch, Vanderbilt missed 11 straight shots, and the Cardinals forced 12 turnovers.
"When you are playing a great team, they capitalize on every mistake you make," Vanderbilt coach Stephanie White said. "And Louisville did that."
Durr scored 14 points in the third quarter as the Cardinals built a 31-point lead late in the period.
The Cardinals came into the game as the 10th-best shooting team in the country at 49.8 percent, but it was the Commodores, namely Bell, who had the hot hand early. The senior guard scored 16 of her 21 points in the first quarter and the Commodores shot 61.5 percent to overcome a 10-2 Louisville start and take a 24-20 lead after the first break.
Walz said once the Cardinals started limited Bell's touches, they were able to reclaim the lead and control the game.
"We made it difficult on them to score . and then we executed on the offensive end," he said.
Arica Carter and Sam Fuehring matched their career highs with 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the Cardinals, who forced 26 turnovers and held the Commodores (3-7) to 40.4 percent shooting overall.
Vanderbilt: Aside from Bell and freshman Chelsie Hall, who finished with 16 points, the Commodores struggled mightily against Louisville. The rest of the team combined to go 7 for 24 from the field.
Louisville: The Cardinals continued their sharp free throw shooting. After entering the game seventh in the country making 78.3 percent of their free throws, the Cardinals improved on that mark by making 19 of 22. Louisville shot just 69.2 percent from the free throw line last season.
Durr, who made 9 of 10, and Fuehring, who made all six of her free throws, said it's been a point of emphasis for the team this season.
"We know that free throws do win games," Durr said. "We take a lot of pride in that."
Jazmine Jones only finished with three points for Louisville, but they were the points that ignited the Cardinals comeback. She was fouled on her putback of a miss by Myisha Hines-Allen, and as she got off the court, she began to pump her fists to get the crowd back in the game.
She made the free throw to cut the Vanderbilt lead to 31-29 with 5:08 left in the first half. The Commodores scored on their next possession, but it was all Louisville from there.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Bell's 3-pointer in the third period not only ended the drought, but it kept Vanderbilt from setting a record for futility. The Commodores worst quarter ever came against Georgia in the SEC Tournament, when they scored just two points on March 3, 2016. Thursday's four-point third quarter represents the Commodores third-worst period since the NCAA went to quarters for the start of the 2015-16 season.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores won't play for nine days as final exams approach. They return to action on Dec. 16 when they host Memphis, the first of four straight home games to end their non-conference schedule.
Louisville: The Cardinals again have just one day between games as they will host Middle Tennessee on Saturday. The Blue Raiders beat Vanderbilt 65-54 in Nashville on Nov. 10.