BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- Louisville coach Jeff Walz was happy that his team was finally able to get off to a fast start. He wasn't thrilled how the Cardinals let Western Kentucky get back in the game.
Bria Smith scored 16 points to lead the fourth-ranked Cardinals to a 74-61 victory over Western Kentucky despite committing 25 turnovers.
"We can turn the ball over with the best of them," Walz said. "We can come up with new ways, some I haven't seen before, but we can definitely make a basketball game very interesting."
The Cardinals will need to take much better care of the ball on Sunday when they face No. 7 Kentucky in an intrastate showdown.
Louisville jumped out to an 18-2 lead before which Western Kentucky cut to five at the half.
"We got off to a real good start, which we have not been doing in the past few games," said Walz. "Then I made some substitutions which was probably a bad decision on my part. I've got to sit here and evaluate what I'm doing with our substitutions."
The game marked a reunion for both coaching staffs. Walz was a former assistant coach at WKU from 1996-97 while second year Lady Topper coach Michelle Clark-Heard spent five seasons as an assistant to Walz at Louisville before returning to her alma mater.
Much of the credit for WKU's come back can be attributed to Heard's knowledge of what Walz's game plan would be going into the game.
"Jeff and I came from the same cloth, so I knew he was going to do a lot of different change-ups," Heard said. "Every time we called a different play defensively our team talked and communicated. That's not easy to do so I was proud of them because they kept us in the game."
Louisville's second half push is what separated them from a 39-34 lead over WKU at halftime. Jalynn McLain's three-point play with 13:58 left made it 50-46 but that's as close as the Lady Toppers could come as the Cardinals scored 14 of the next 16 points to take control.
Shoni Schimmel got the run started with a 3-pointer and Smith added six points during the spurt.
Chastity Gooch scored 21 points to lead Western Kentucky (4-2).
Walz said after the game he hopes the rivalry will continue for years to come. With 3,275 fans in attendance the Lady Toppers had their biggest non-conference crowd since 2008.
"(Heard) did a great job preparing them," Walz said. "I thought the crowd was great. It was exciting, they got loud. She's going to continue to build this and continue to do well, and it's going to be a fun series to play."
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