Bench comes through as No. 21 Louisville downs SJU

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Louisville's reserves were ready when Big East player of the year Angel McCoughtry struggled.

McCoughtry had 15 points and the Cardinals (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today. No. 20 AP) dominated their counterparts in a 68-54 victory over St. John's on Saturday in the Big East tournament.

McCoughtry scored Louisville's first five points, but spent much of the game in foul trouble, and played just 24 minutes. Louisville's subs outscored St. John's reserves 28-0.

"This team believes that they can win without Angel," coach Tom Collen said. "I think they are a little bit more poised now than they were at the beginning of the year. When she used to get into foul trouble, they panicked a bit when they saw leads slipping away."

The fifth-seeded Cardinals (25-6) never trailed in this one and used a 12-1 run midway through the first half to break open a close game and take a 26-10 lead.

Louisville will play fourth-seeded West Virginia in Sunday's quarterfinals. The Mountaineers earned the bye after defeating the Cardinals 76-71 in overtime on Monday.

"They came in and beat us on our home court, so we already have our minds set that this is going to be a battle," said Jazz Covington, who finished with 11 points against St. John's.

Helen Johnson led Louisville's subs with 10 points. Johnson hit three of her first five shots from behind the arc and Louisville led 39-27 at halftime.

"I didn't think they needed me to take a lot of shots," McCoughtry said. "Everybody else was hitting shots and everything, so I just needed to do the little things to help my team.

St. John's two leading scorers, Monique McClean and Kia Wright, had been sick all week and did not practice the past three days, said coach Kim Barnes Arico.

McClean, who came in averaging 15 points, was just 2-of-20 from the field and finished with four points. Wright was held to nine, five below her average.

Tiina Sten, who averages 12 points per game, kept the Red Storm in it. She scored 22, including 14 in the first half on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor. The rest of the team went just 5-of-24 from the field before the break.

"I realized it was my time, and I had to step up," Sten said.

Louisville led 53-35 when St. John's went to a full-court press that sparked an 11-0 run, cutting the lead to 53-46 midway through the second half. But Louisville responded by scoring the next eight points.

"I think what happened is the press brought us back into the game and then we kind of ran out of gas the last 8 minutes," Barnes Arico said.

St. John's had 25 offensive rebounds but shot just 28.6 percent from the field.

"We were 20-of-70 from the floor, and you are not going to win many games when you are 20-of-70 from the floor," she said.

Angel Tate had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Red Storm.

St. John's finished the season 8-20, having lost its final four games.