LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Hailey Van Lith scored 16 points for No. 10 Louisville, which beat Belmont 80-66 on Sunday afternoon.
After dominating No. 12 Michigan defensively on Thursday, the Cardinals (7-1) faced a tough challenge from a Bruins (4-4) team that returned all five starters and 11 players from a squad that reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. The mid-major power trailed only 22-20 with eight minutes left in the first half.
An 11-0 run in the second quarter gave the hosts a 37-22 lead. The lead would grow to as much as 64-41 in the final seconds of the third quarter. However, Destinee Wells hit a half-court buzzer beater to give the Bruins momentum into the final period.
Belmont made 5 of 7 3-pointers in the final quarter and got as close as 72-61 with 4:47 left, but the hole was just too deep. The Bruins shot 45.2% but made just 9 of 29 from beyond the arc.
Louisville shot better than 50% (54%) for the third time this season. Nine players scored for the Cardinals, with six getting at least eight points.
Kianna Smith scored 14 points and reached the 1,000-point mark for her career.
Wells scored 19 points to lead the Bruins. All of those came in the second half as the Ohio Valley Conference’s preseason player of the year played just 10:43 of the first half due to to two fouls.
Madison Bartley added 11 points in the loss.
Belmont: Despite being on the wrong side of the score, the Bruins showed the ability to hang with the Cardinals’ formidable frontcourt. This should be a team to watch come March should they make it out of the OVC as expected.
Louisville: The Cardinals got a late scare reminiscent of some games last season, but the defense made key plays throughout, and making Belmont miss 18 of its first 21 3-point shots made the advantage big enough to sustain.
Belmont returns home to play Auburn on Wednesday.
Louisville gets a week off to prepare to host archrival No. 16 Kentucky.
More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25