SALT LAKE CITY -- Angel McCoughtry was struggling with her shot so she figured she needed to do something else to save her team.
McCoughtry had 13 points and two key steals in the final three minutes to help Louisville (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) hold off Utah 59-48 Tuesday night.
"I wasn't feeling it on my shot so I knew I had to make up for it on the defensive end," she said. "I saw where the ball was headed and I just made a break for the ball and came up with it twice."
McCoughtry faced intense defensive pressure from the Utes. She converted just 3-of-14 from the field but had five steals and two blocks to foil the Utes' upset bid.
"Angel anticipates as well an anybody. She knows how to read the passing lanes and she led our league in steals last year so it was nothing that surprised us," Louisville Jeff Walz said.
Denise Byrd led the Cardinals with 17 points and Candice Bingham added 12 as Louisville (4-0) stayed unbeaten.
"Our All-American wasn't making her shots so me taking it to the hole took some pressure off," Byrd said. "But she still found ways to help us win. We just needed a couple of stops after they got the momentum."
Morgan Warburton, who played the last 16 minutes with four fouls, had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Utes.
"It's hard getting taken out of my game with fouls, but I felt I needed to be out there leading us as a senior. I was lucky I could stay on the court without fouling out," said Warburton, who made only 5-of-18 shots.
Her free throw with 3:29 to play trimmed the lead to 52-48 but the Utes came up empty on their next two possessions as McCoughtry had a pair of steals.
The Cardinals made 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch to seal the win in their first-ever game at Utah (2-2). The only other meeting between the teams was in the first round of the 1998 NCAA tournament, which the Cardinals won, 69-61.
"This was our toughest game so far and it's difficult being so far away from home in front of a tough crowd. But this is the kind of game that will help us in the NCAA tournament," McCoughtry said.
Louisville's trap forced the Utes into 23 turnovers and 34.8 percent shooting.
"We didn't ever give up, but we have lots to learn in running our offense against a high-pressure team like Louisville. They were really good at taking us out of our stuff," said Kalee Whipple, who scored 15 for Utah.
The last time Utah faced an opponent ranked in the top 10 was Nov. 18, 2007, when the Utes fell in double-overtime to No. 5 Stanford, 81-77.
The Cardinals, who are in the midst of a five-game road stretch, scored 17 points off Utah turnovers to help overcome 1-of-12 shooting from beyond the 3-point line.
"Utah just backed off us and dared us to take quick shots. On the other hand, we did a good job on defense and finally made some great passes in the final minutes to get the win," Walz said.