Vermont isn’t about to start taking solace in moral victories, but for the second time in a week, the Catamounts certainly have cause for optimism.
Just no wins for their efforts.
Louisville made sure of that Friday with a strong finish to the first half and control-seizing run to begin the second half on the way to an 86-78 triumph over the visitors.
The Cardinals (3-0) got 22 points from Jordan Nwora, 17 from Darius Perry and 14 apiece from V.J. King and Steven Enoch to hold Vermont (1-3) off.
Anthony Lamb led the Catamounts with 25 points, while Stef Smith chimed in with 24.
Similarly to a road game at Kansas four days earlier, the Catamounts led for much of the first half, but Nwora’s hot hand helped Louisville gain control.
Late in the first half, Ben Shungu knocked down a pair of foul shots to pull Vermont within 36-35 with 1:45 left before halftime. Nwora buried a 3-pointer on the Cardinals’ trip the offensive end, and UL converted six free throws in a row before the period ended to stretch the lead to 45-35 at halftime.
Enoch scored the Cardinals’ first 10 points of the second half before Nwora’s jumper triggered a 15-4 burst that nudged the lead to 70-49 at the 9:44 juncture.
Vermont stayed close with 3s, including Smith’s long-range bomb at the 3-minute mark that whittled the deficit to 80-72.
Both teams were effective at the free-throw line, but Louisville was busier, and that made a difference. The Cardinals were 26-for-33, while Vermont was 17-for-19.
A big part of the Catamounts’ comeback was a hotter shooting touch. They hit 12 of 27 floor shots in the first half, but warmed up to connect on 53.8 percent (14 of 26) over the final 20 minutes.
Louisville also shot better overall, but didn’t utilize the 3-point stripe as much in the second half, with only six attempts after nailing 6 of 13 in the opening period.
Nwora finished the night 7-of-11 shooting overall and 4-for-7 from deep. Lamb was 9-of-15 and Smith 8-of-14, as those two accounted for all but nine of Vermont’s made field goals.
—Field Level Media