ORLANDO, Fla. -- Central Florida is starting to realize that it can compete with the nationally ranked teams as its first season in the American Conference continues.
The Knights are also figuring out what they can't do against top team -- turn the ball over.
UCF had 25 turnovers in a 74-59 loss to No. 4 Louisville on Tuesday night.
"You can't make mistakes against team like this, because they will make you pay," said UCF coach Joy Williams. "Turnovers have bit us in the butt all year. We're confident, but we shoot ourselves in the foot."
UCF got as close as 63-53 on Andrea Hines 3-pointer with 5:31 left, but could come no closer.
"We're confident we can play with these teams," said Brittni Montgomery, who had nine points and nine rebounds for UCF. "We just have to play 40 minutes."
Asia Taylor's double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds led a balanced Louisville scoring effort that sent the Knights (9-13,2-9) to their ninth defeat in 10 games.
Led by Sara Djassi's 12 point and Zykira Lewis' 10, Central Florida kept within striking distance of the Cardinals. It was a 44-35 game early in the second half before Louisville pulled away to a 20-point lead.
Taylor's third-double-double of the season led a balanced Louisville (23-1 overall, 11-0 American Athletic Conference) scoring effort that saw four players reached double figures.
Sara Hammond had 14 points, Shoni Schimmel 11 and Emmanuel Henderson 10 for the Cardinals, who finally pulled away when Schimmel and Hammond combined for 10 points on a 15-3 run that gave Louisvile a 58-38 lead on Taylor's three-pointer with 12 minutes to play.
"That's such a great team," Montgomery said of Louisville. "They're so unselfish. They always have players on the court who can score."
Louisville (23-1,11-0) struggled to put away a Knights team they dispatched 75-56 back on January 15. The Cardinals have a game with top-ranked UConn Sunday, but the word "trap game" was quickly dismissed."
"This was a grind game," Taylor said. "It shouldn't have been like this. We should have put it away earlier. "We had a hard time running the ball and guarding the drive. You're going to have game like this where you just have to find a way to win."
Like Taylor, Louisville Head Coach Jeff Walz said this wasn't a trap game, and the Cardinals struggled at first in a game more physical than his team expected. Louisville committed 23 fouls and sent Central Florida to the line 22 times.
"(Central Florida) punched us in the mouth and we didn't respond," Walz said. "We didn't play with physicality-- they (Central Florida) were and credit to them. You have to be able to adjust game in and game out. What's getting called this game may not have been called on Sunday, and that's OK. You have to be able to adjust."
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