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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Louisville coach Jeff Walz appreciates scoring efficiency.
That's why the shooting performances of the two Smiths — Ahlana and Kianna — resonated deeply with him.
Both were an efficient 5 of 7 from the floor. Both finished with 11 points as No. 10 Louisville won its fifth straight by beating Colorado State 71-56 on Sunday.
“It’s like I tell them, ‘It’s not about how many points you score. It’s about how efficient you can be,'” Walz said. “If you score 20, and you go 9 for 29, that’s not impressive to me. But to go 5 for 7, that speaks volumes.”
This speaks loudly, too — the Cardinals (5-1) shot 52.8% from the floor in a contest they never trailed. Emily Engstler drained a 3-pointer 1:37 into the game and the Cardinals steadily pulled away, leading by as many as 21 points.
“We passed the ball extremely well,” Walz said. “We didn’t panic.”
There was no real need for panic. Although, Colorado State (5-1) did make things interesting in the third quarter by cutting the deficit to 10 points. Walz quickly sent five new players to the scorer’s table to check in — and a comfortable lead was quickly restored.
“They kind of stabilize things and, offensively, got the ball moving more,” Walz said. “When we reverse the ball, we’re good. When we take early shots, it’s just not what we do great."
Engstler finished with 10 points and eight boards. The Cardinals out-rebounded the Rams by a 39-22 margin.
Colorado State was led by Sydney Mech and Karly Murphy with 12 points apiece. Cali Clark added 10 points as the Rams hosted a ranked nonconference team for the first time since No. 8 Connecticut visited Moby Arena in 2004.
“Overall, I like how our kids competed and we just kept finding a way to grind out some possessions and got enough good shots to kind of keep the fans on the edge of their seats a little bit,” Colorado State coach Ryun Williams said. “This is a good game where you can learn a lot from — if you use it the right way, which we will.”
Louisville: Since an overtime loss to No. 9 Arizona on Nov. 12, the Cardinals have won five games by an average of 30.4 points.
Colorado State: The Rams couldn't find their touch after a week between games. They were 5 of 15 from 3-point range against Louisville after hitting 16 in an 81-55 win over Lipscomb. The Rams haven’t knocked off a ranked nonconference opponent at home since beating No. 11 Colorado on Nov. 28, 2001.
Louisville forward Olivia Cochran had five points — all on free throws — along with six assists and no turnovers.
“She was a big part of why we played well," Walz said.
Count Williams as impressed with Louisville's athleticism.
"I thought Louisville really came out with an edge, and the speed, their start-stop, just the athleticism with which they played with, I think it really surprised us,” Williams said. “I even caught myself, ‘Whoa.’ How they get from A to B is just a different level.”
EVENING THE SERIES
The Cardinals improved to 2-2 against Colorado State. This was the first meeting between the two since Dec. 15, 2001, when the Rams beat the Cardinals 82-72 in the championship game of the Women’s Sports Foundation Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.
WHAT TIME IS IT?
The Cardinals have played in four different time zones to start the season. They were on Central time in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, against Arizona, then had home games in the Eastern Time Zone before taking off to face Washington and Cal Poly in the Pacific zone. On Sunday, they finished their odyssey on Mountain time.
Louisville: Starts four in a row at home against Michigan on Thursday.
Colorado State: Faces Harvard on Saturday as part of the Arizona State Classic.
More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25