MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — Louisville coach Jeff Walz gave his team easy instructions Tuesday night.
Crank up the pressure, put Ball State away early and get ready for this weekend's showdown with No. 11 Colorado. Mission accomplished.
Shoni Schimmel had 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in 27 minutes, and Sara Hammond scored 11 of her 13 points in the first five minutes to help the seventh-ranked Cardinals run away with a 105-67 victory at Ball State.
"Coach told us to go out there and get at it right from the beginning," Schimmel said. "So we came out did what we had to do."
There was never a doubt about this one.
The Cardinals (11-1) have won four straight since losing to rival Kentucky and have scored 213 points since Saturday and won those two games by a combined total of 93 points. And by topping 100 points for the fourth time this season, they already have tied the school's single-season record with eight 90-plus point games. The mark was first established in 1990-91.
That's not all.
Three days after setting season highs with 43 field goals made and 27 assists in a 108-53 rout of Austin Peay, Louisville was just as proficient against Ball State (3-6). It again made 43 baskets, had 28 assists and grabbed 18 offensive rebounds on just 29 missed shots.
But Walz wasn't as interested in the impressive numbers. He was looking for his team to make an early statement.
"I just told them 'We're going into situations now where we have the target on our back, where teams say this is an opportunity to get a top-10 win and you can't walk into any gym and think that somebody's not excited to play you,'" said Walz, who agreed to the game when his old college pal, Ball State coach Brady Sallee wanted to put it on the schedule. "So I've been trying to tell them that we need to be the one to throw the first punch."
They threw everything at Ball State, which was looking for its first upset of a ranked foe since a stunning victory over Tennessee in the 2009 NCAA tournament.
Ball State (3-6) never had a chance against Louisville's size, speed, strength or depth.
In the first half, Louisville shot 67.6 percent and had a 32-12 scoring advantage in the paint. It forced 14 turnovers, had a 16-0 edge on fast-break points and outscored Ball State's reserves 25-2. Predictably, the Cardinals led 60-29 at the half and had their most points in any half this season.
Jill Morrison scored 17 points and Nathalie Fontaine had 14 points and six rebounds to lead Ball State — not nearly enough on this night.
"They're ranked seventh for a reason," Sallee said. "In their league, they're not going to lose a whole lot of games. UConn's pretty good and I hear they beat Duke at home tonight, but so is Louisville. But they are that good. What they can do to you rebounding and turning it over, they can really, really amp it up on you. It's not something we could simulate in practice, so we had to kind of learn on the fly a little bit."
The lessons were tough.
Louisville scored the first nine points, and Hammond's opening scoring flurry helped the Cardinals take a commanding 22-2 with 13:47 to go in the first half. Ball State still didn't have a basket at that point.
Things only got worse.
Monny Niamke's three-point play midway through the half extended the margin to 32-6, and after taking the 31-point lead into halftime, Louisville took a 40-point lead with 10:15 left in the game and never let Ball State get closer than 37.
Jude Schimmel also had 14 points in her second straight start for the Cardinals.