CINCINNATI -- With a matchup against No. 1 Connecticut looming, Tia Gibbs and No. 3 Louisville pulled away from Cincinnati.
The fifth-year senior scored 17 points as the Cardinals beat the Bearcats 75-51 on Saturday.
"We knew where our focus would be," said Gibbs, who led the Cardinals to a 26-0 advantage in bench points. "The way we looked at it, (Saturday) was our biggest game of the season."
Cardinals coach Jeff Walz knew his team wouldn't overlook Cincinnati, even though Louisville now owns a six-game winning streak in the series.
"We knew they'd play hard," Walz said,
If there was any hint of looking ahead, it was in Louisville's 14 turnovers.
"We turned it over a little too much for my liking, mainly at the start and at the end," Walz said. "That's something we're going to have to work on."
Antonita Slaughter added 14 points, Asia Taylor finished with 12 and Shoni Schimmel scored 10, helping keep alive Louisville's bid for a share of the American Athletic Conference championship.
The second-place Cardinals (28-2, 16-1) went into Saturday's game trailing top-ranked and conference-leading Connecticut by one game.
The two are scheduled to meet in the regular-season finale on Monday in Louisville.
The Cardinals have won five straight games since an 81-64 loss at Connecticut on February 9.
Before a crowd of 1,088 on Cincinnati's Senior Day, Bearcats' senior Jeanise Randolph had 22 points and 11 rebounds -- her ninth double-double of the season and 14th of her career. She finished a point short of matching her career-high.
"We didn't want to make it all about her, but we ran a couple of plays for her toward the end," Elliott said.
Alyesha Lovett added 15 points for Cincinnati (12-16, 5-12).
Randolph, who was averaging 11.4 points per game, scored 14 in the first half, including a personal 10-2 run that left the Bearcats leading 21-19 with 9:49 remaining before halftime.
Louisville regained the lead on back-to-back conventional three-point plays by Gibbs, and the Cardinals rode eight Cincinnati turnovers to a 18-8 run that left them leading 37-29 at halftime.
The Cardinals limited Cincinnati to 22 points in the second half while adjusting their offense to go inside more. They took the same number of shots from the field in each half, but 15 of them were 3-pointers in the first half and only three were launched from behind the arc after halftime. That helped Louisville improve its shooting percentage from 37.9 (11 of 29) in the first half to 55.2 (16 of 29) in the second.
"I think we started off a little slow," Gibbs said. "We were making some silly turnovers. The adjustments we made were mainly mental. They were outrebounding us. We had to start attacking them instead of letting them attack us."
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