The newcomers sit atop the Atlantic Coast Conference. Now the question is how long the Louisville women can stay there.
The No. 4 Cardinals held off Virginia 67-55 on Sunday in Louisville to win their ninth straight and remain the last team without an ACC loss.
Louisville (17-1, 5-0 ACC) now faces three ranked opponents in its next four games as the Cardinals continue their inaugural season in the conference after replacing Maryland.
"We're going down to Florida State here on Thursday, and they're a top 10 team," Louisville Coach Jeff Walz said of the No. 20 Seminoles. "They aren't ranked top 10, but they're a top 10 team. ... If we don't go down there prepared to play and know that we're going to get their best shot, then shame on us."
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The Cardinals stood firm against a good shot from Virginia (13-5, 3-2) as former Rockcastle County standout Sara Hammond scored 16 of Louisville's first 20 points in the win. The senior forward finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.
Virginia (13-5, 3-2) trailed by five with 10 minutes left. Myisha Hines-Allen's jumper with 2:29 remaining put the Cardinals up 61-50 to seal the win. Hines-Allen scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half.
The Cardinals dominated 52-24 in the paint, scoring 50 or more inside for the seventh time this season. That allowed the Cardinals to overcome missing all nine threes and poor shooting from the free-throw line (11-for-26).
Faith Randolph led the Cavaliers with 24 points, her third straight game with 23 or more points. Sarah Imovbioh added 11 points and 15 rebounds.
Hammond repeatedly cut through the Virginia defense by slipping ball screens and taking passes for a layup.
"Hammond's just a smart kid," said Virginia Coach Joanne Boyle. "She makes great reads."
The Cardinals led 32-27 at halftime. Hines-Allen scored Louisville's first nine points of the second half before Hammond's layup put the Cards up 43-37. Hines-Allen's drive and and then an assist to Hammond on a layup followed for a 47-39 advantage with 13:11 remaining.
"Just being post partners, we're starting to get some chemistry together," Hammond said of her freshman frontcourt mate.
Following the trip to Florida State, the Cardinals host Miami and No. 25 Syracuse before traveling to No. 16 Duke on Feb. 2. Despite years of facing powerhouse Connecticut in the Big East and American Athletic Conference, Walz knows the path through the ACC isn't any easier.
"I don't see us going undefeated in this league," Walz said. "And I'm not trying to be a pessimist, I'm trying to be a realist. I just don't see it. There's too many great teams. So we're going to just have to keep grinding them out, and in order for us to win."
No. 18 Georgia 64, Vanderbilt 53: Shacobia Barbee scored 14 points with 11 rebounds and host Georgia held off Vanderbilt. Georgia (16-3, 4-2 SEC) led by one early in the second half when the Bulldogs went on a 13-4 run — including seven points from Barbee.
No. 11 Texas A&M 58, Mississippi 49: Courtney Williams had 21 points and seven rebounds to help the Aggies win in College Station, Texas.
No. 20 Florida State 59, Virginia Tech 44: Former Kentucky point guard Maegan Conwright scored 12 points, including three three-pointers, in the Seminoles' road win. She also had three assists.
No. 23 Minnesota 65, Indiana 61: Carile Wagner's jumper with 37 seconds left lifted Minnesota over Indiana in Minneapolis. Larryn Brooks (Madison Central) had 12 points, four assists and three steals for the Hoosiers.
No. 15 North Carolina 68, Virginia Tech 53: Justin Jackson scored 16 points and host North Carolina held on for a sloppy win.
North Carolina shot 44 percent and overcame 17 turnovers — its most in nearly a month — by forcing Virginia Tech into 14.
The Tar Heels held the Hokies scoreless for nearly 7 minutes and outrebounded them 49-22, allowing them just four on the offensive glass.
Indiana 80, Illinois 74: Indiana survived an early run from Illinois and battled back to beat the Illini on the road.
James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams led the Hoosiers with 21 points each.
IUPUI 89, Nebraska-Omaha 84: Mason Archie II scored 19 points on 7-for-8 shooting to lead a balanced scoring effort for IUPUI at Omaha, Neb. Marcellus Barksdale (Tates Creek) added eight points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals for the Jaguars.
Rider 82, Manhattan 79 (OT): Teddy Okereafor scored 16 points and made a key steal to lift Rider over Manhattan in Riverdale, N.Y. The Jaspers, coached by former UK walk-on Steve Masiello, got seven points from Donovan Kates (Christian County) in the loss.
Loyola 91, Boston University 86 (OT): Former Louisville Trinity star Nathan Dieudonne had 11 points, 14 rebounds and three assists in the Terriers' loss in Baltimore.