Shoni Schimmel scored 20 points and Bria Smith finished with a double-double as the fifth-seed Louisville Cardinals ran past the 12th-seed Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, 74-49, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the KFC Yum! Center.
Smith had 10 points to match 10 rebounds and also handed out six assists and collected four steals for Louisville (25-8) which takes on Purdue, also at the KFC Yum! Center, on Tuesday. Monique Reid tallied 15 points off the bench and Jude Schimmel had 11 points, five assists and five steals, also as a reserve.
Kortni Jones had 14 points, Ebony Rowe recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Icelyn Elie contributed 13 points and seven rebounds for Middle Tennessee (25-8).
The first half was much tighter than the game as a whole. Louisville shot 43.2 percent from the field in the period and had six more made field goals than the Blue Raiders. However Middle Tennessee hung around by netting five shots from beyond the arc as Louisville led 34-27 at the break.
The floodgates opened in the second half for the Cardinals as they hit 53.8 percent from the field. Middle Tennessee lost the touch from the outside, connecting on only 3-of-14 shots from deep and just 25.8 percent overall in the final 20 minutes.
Louisville forced 24 turnovers, 18 off of steals, while coughing the ball up just eight times as a team. Middle Tennessee had the rebounding edge, 42-36.