LOUISVILLE — The Louisville players tried to pretend they didn't really worry about their crushing defeat at Kentucky last season.
They tried to pretend that it didn't mean anything before this year's go around.
But a 78-52 drubbing of eighth-ranked Kentucky on Sunday showed what Louisville couldn't or wouldn't say in the days leading up to their biggest rivalry game of the season.
"We all had a little extra motivation, especially the returning players from last year," junior guard Becky Burke said. "Last year they didn't let up at all and we didn't either this year."
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The 26-point defeat was UK's worst in two seasons and it came in front of the largest crowd (22,152) to ever see a womens' basketball game in this state.
"That's not acceptable in a game of this magnitude to show up and do what we did," Coach Matthew Mitchell said afterward.
What happened was a three-point barrage that buried the Cats at the new KFC Yum Center.
Freshman guard Shoni Schimmel scored a career-best 26 points, including six three-pointers. Not to be outdone, Burke had six three-pointers of her own and scored 21 points.
"Before the game, we said we're having a shootout to see who could make more," Burke said. "We tied."
Schimmel, an Oregon native who also had six assists, said she learned quickly how big this game was.
"I understood what the rivalry was and what happened last year," she said. "As a whole, we weren't going to let it happen again."
Schimmel was hot from the start, scoring nine points in the Cardinals' opening 17-4 run. UK answered by scoring eight unanswered to get within five points before Louisville scored 11 straight.
"We attacked them," Coach Jeff Walz said. "We did a really good job of attacking them. ... We won the 50-50 plays. That gave us momentum."
That's been Kentucky's signature the past two years, which included a trip to the NCAA Tournament's elite eight last season.
But in a few quick strokes from beyond the three-point line, UK's signature looked illegible.
"It hurts a lot," said senior Victoria Dunlap, who led UK with 17 points and a career-best 23 rebounds. "We are a team that plays defense, that's supposed to play defense, that's supposed to hustle. ... There might have been a couple of minutes that we did, but it wasn't for the entire game. That's our bread and butter. It doesn't help us if we don't do it."
It was the most points scored against Kentucky so far this season and the 49 percent was the highest shooting percentage against the Cats.
Previously, the most three-pointers UK had allowed an opponent to shoot was seven. Two different players had nearly that many on their own against the Cats Sunday. Louisville (6-3) made 57.1 percent of its three-pointers, including six of its eight tries in the second half.
"Our style of play is based on hustle and being tenacious and playing hard and we picked a bad day not to play hard defensively," Mitchell said. "We picked a bad day to do that in a game that meant a whole lot."
In many ways, Louisville was able to turn the tables on UK (5-1), scoring 25 points off of 22 Cat miscues and holding UK to 28.2 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from three-point range.
Other than Dunlap, Maegan Conwright was the only other player who seemed effective, scoring 13 points. A'dia Mathies, who was hampered by severe leg cramps in the second half, added 10 points.
"We forced them to take shots they don't like to take," Walz said.
"Absolutely terrible day for us and Louisville had a lot to do with that," Mitchell said. "You have to admire how hard their kids played today."
The 52 points was the fewest points scored by UK this season. The Cats' 15 trips to the free throw line was their lowest of the season by 15.
They only had four assists on their 20 made field goals, which was a point of pride for Walz and the Cardinals, who won their third straight game and have now won six of the last seven in the rivalry.
"We've got a team that can play like a team and I was really, really proud of what we did," Walz said, adding that For Louisville "to get 19 assists on 27 made field goals shows you you're playing team basketball."
Dunlap says she's OK
With three minutes left in the game, UK star and reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Dunlap was on the ground clutching her left knee.
By the end of the game, she was able to put weight on it, and by post-game interviews, she had just a slight limp.
"I think it's just a little hyperextension," she said. "I'm going to see the doctor tomorrow. I feel OK, though."