Created: 12/01/2013 5:05 PM
(AP) LEXINGTON, Ky. - Louisville was left wondering again how a 14-point lead slipped away against rival Kentucky.
After building that big edge in the first half against the No. 7 Wildcats (8-0), Louisville squandered missing its first nine shots in the second and the No. 4 Cardinals were beaten 69-64 on Sunday.
Kentucky took advantage and grabbed its first lead on a 3-pointer from Bernisha Pinkett with 10:54 remaining. The Wildcats never trailed again.
If history means anything, Louisville (7-1) should be able to move on from this disappointing loss. After all, the Cardinals rallied from last year’s one-point home defeat to the Wildcats and reached their second NCAA championship game before losing to Connecticut.
But there was no doubt the Cardinals wanted this victory.
"This game isn’t going to define our season," said guard Shoni Schimmel, whose 17 points led the Cardinals. "We knew that coming in.
"Of course, we wanted to win this game, and prepared hard to win this game, but we just came up short."
Schimmel finished with a game-high 17 points and added seven rebounds and four assists. Sara Hammond had 12 points and seven rebounds, but fouled out with 1:55 to go.
As poorly as Louisville was playing, the Cardinals tied the game three times but couldn’t seize control. The numbers told the story of their collapse.
The Cardinals shot 28 percent (10 of 36) in the second half after a 12-for-24 start. Kentucky also battled back on the boards, recovering from a 23-13 first-half deficit to outrebound Louisville 26-21 in the second half.
The Cardinals also struggled with Kentucky’s pressure, finishing with 24 turnovers that were converted into 25 points.
"I thought we did a great job of rebounding in the first half, controlled the boards, controlled the tempo of the game and played it exactly how we wanted to play it," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "I was really proud of them. Then, we just came out in the second half and missed a lot of point-blank shots we normally don’t miss and started to give up offensive rebounds because we were getting frustrated.
"That’s a bad combination."
Louisville led by 14 points in last year’s loss. Kentucky started slowly in that game before Janee Thompson’s 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left gave the Wildcats a 48-47 win.
DeNesha Stallworth led this year’s comeback with 15 points in the second half, when she grabbed six of her eight rebounds. Jennifer O’Neill added 12, including a critical jumper with 40.8 seconds left, and Thompson had 13.
"Coming into this game we knew how dominant of a player she was," Hammond said of Stallworth. "We just needed to keep circling her and be physical with her.
"I think we did that in the first half, but in the second half she did a good job of working hard. Her team did a good job of getting her the ball and getting her in open spots, allowing her to get easy baskets."
O’Neill’s effort led the Wildcats’ reserves, who outscored Louisville’s 28-11. Kentucky got six points each from Bernisha Pinkett and freshman guard Makayla Epps on 3-pointers. Azia Bishop added four points and seven rebounds.
"Are we going to learn from it? Yeah," Walz said. "There’s no question about it. We had our opportunities and we have got to take advantage of them."
The Cardinals have lost 16 straight games to Kentucky at Memorial Coliseum.