DALLAS (AP) – Antonita Slaughter has been getting back in playing shape after a scary incident.
Now she’s starting to rediscover her shooting touch for No. 5 Louisville.
Slaughter had 17 points with four 3-pointers, two in a game-turning run, and the Cardinals stretched their winning streak to 11 games with an 81-66 win at SMU on Sunday.
It was the most extensive action for Slaughter since a blood clot in her lung that led to her collapsing during a game last month. She was then hospitalized for several days and missed six games. In her three previous games since returning, she had been 1-for-10 shooting, missing all five 3-pointers.
“My teammates always have confidence in me. I’ve been on a little streak where I haven’t hit any, but they just keep encouraging me, and I showed them that I could do it,” said Slaughter, who played 25 minutes. “I’m feeling great. … I’m getting there.”
Slaughter started the 11-0 run early after halftime with a 3 off an inbound pass from Shoni Schimmel, then Asia Taylor had a steal. That led to a layup by Sara Hammond, who then drew a charge to give the ball back to the Cardinals, and Slaughter made another 3-pointer. Schimmel’s 3-pointer with 17:23 left stretched the lead to 44-37.
“It’s big for our program, it’s big for this ball club,” coach Jeff Walz said of having Slaughter back. “She’s felt good conditioning-wise the past two weeks, but there’s a big difference between running sprints and being on the treadmill to getting out there and getting your game legs. When you’ve got to stop and get your composure and knock down a shot, it takes a while. I still think she’s about a week away from getting back into her prime.”
Slaughter, a senior guard, had five 3-pointers in the second game this season, and twice in her career had seven in a game.
“For her to knock down shots, it just opens up our whole offensive end,” Schimmel said.
Louisville (18-1, 6-0 American Athletic), after trailing by eight before halftime, got its 11 consecutive points in a span of only 79 seconds.
Tia Gibbs had 20 points to lead five players in double-figure scoring for Louisville, which beat SMU for the second time in three weeks — the Cards won the AAC opener at home 71-51 on Dec. 29. Schimmel had 12 points, while Taylor had 11. Hammond had 10 points and 12 rebounds, while Bria Smith had seven points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
Keena Mays, the AAC’s leading scorer with 19.5 points a game and held to only seven the previous meeting, led the Mustangs (11-7, 2-5) with 20 points. Korina Baker had 14 with four 3s and Kiara Perry scored 12 points.
SMU led 32-24 when Baker hit a 3-pointer with just over 5½ minutes left in the first half.
Gibbs then scored seven points in a 9-1 run for Louisville, which got even at 33 on her baseline jumper with 1:37 left in the half.
The Mustangs regained the lead before halftime on Perry’s putback basket of her own miss. They scored the first basket after halftime before Louisville’s surge.
“I don’t know if it was a lack of focus, a loss of focus, but they came out shooting 3s, came out more aggressive,” Mays said. “We had to come out with the same energy that we did the first half, and it just didn’t happen that way.”
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