BOISE, Idaho — Louisville is fast building a reputation for its bursts to start the third quarter. And Monday night, the Cardinals needed one in the worst way after slogging through the first half.
Holding a 31-28 tenuous halftime lead, the fifth-ranked Cardinals utilized a 17-3 third-quarter run to race past Boise State 74-55.
"In the first half, we were just standing around and watching," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "But the first play of the second half for us started on a breakaway for a layup. And that was the first time in the game our whole team ran the floor."
For Louisville (3-0), that was the spark required to squelch any ideas Boise State had for an upset.
"We weren't getting any movement or spacing on the court," said Louisville's returning All-American Asia Durr, who finished with a game-high 20 points. "Coach called a timeout and we got a few shots off after that. Overall, this wasn't one of our better games, but we gutted it out."
Boise State (3-1), which lost to Louisville 74-42 in the first round of the NCAA tournament in March, matched the Cardinals early, but struggled to keep pace with Louisville's up-tempo game in the second half.
Durr and Arica Carter, who finished with 16 points, combined for a lethal spark in the third quarter to all but put the game away.
"Asia played well and Arica hit some big shots there and separated us from them," Walz said. "And we're going to continue to need that."
Louisville shot 34.5 percent from the floor in the first half, before hitting 55 percent of its shots in the second half, including 63 percent from 3-point range. The Cardinals also outrebounded Boise State 37-29.
Braydey Hodgins and Riley Lupfer scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, to lead Boise State.
While the start of the third quarter helped Louisville put the game away, Boise State coach Gordy Presnell saw the wheels fall off about 90 seconds earlier.
After Hodgins hit a 3-pointer to put Boise State ahead 28-24 with 1:37 remaining before halftime, Louisville closed out the quarter on a 7-0 run.
"That really took the wind out of our sails right before halftime," Presnell said.
Early in the second quarter, Louisville starting guard Jazmine Jones landed hard on her hip on a play underneath the basket and never returned. She tallied six points in her first eight minutes on the court.
After the game, Walz said he was unsure the extent of her injury but said she would be evaluated further on Tuesday.
"We really need her," Walz said. "Jazmine was being a difference maker for us on both ends of the floor."
Louisville: Walz's focus on getting his team more battled tested early is paying early dividends. The Cardinals chose to play two of their first three games against NCAA Tournament participants from last season. Louisville passed with flying colors. But it doesn't get any easier with two more NCAA tourney teams on the schedule this month.
Boise State: The Broncos won the Mountain West last season and were picked to do so again. Despite the loss, Boise State should gain even more confidence heading into conference play later this season after going toe-to-toe with Louisville.
Louisville: After opening with three games on the road, the Cardinals will be in Las Vegas against Arizona State on Friday for the Southpoint Shootout.
Boise State: The Broncos leave home for the first time this season, traveling to Long Beach, Calif., for the Beach Classic to face Idaho.