RENO, Nev. -- With Alabama hanging around longer than was comfortable, Louisville (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) turned to Angel McCoughtry.
McCoughtry, the school's career scoring leader, scored 28 points and sparked a key run as the Cardinals pulled away in the second half to beat Alabama, 73-56, on Friday in the first round of the Nugget Classic.The Cardinals (5-0) will play host Nevada, in Saturday's championship game. Alabama (3-2) will play Northern Iowa.Alabama trailed 35-28 at halftime, but opened the second half with five quick points from Russell on a short jumper and a 3-pointer to pull to within 37-33 with 18:40 to play.On the ensuing possession, the Crimson Tide forced Louisville to inbound the ball with 1 second left on the shot clock. The inbound pass went to McCoughtry, who hit a rainbow 3-pointer.That shot started a 17-3 run by the Cardinals over the next seven minutes to put them ahead, 56-36, with 10:23 to play. Alabama could get no closer than 15 the rest of the way."We really came out in the second half and executed well," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. "We did a lot of things well. That was nice to see."Candyce Bingham had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Cardinals, who have played four of their first five games on the road."It's tough, but we're used to it," Walz said.McCoughtry also had nine rebounds to become the school's career leader."It's a great honor to have both those records," she said. "I guess it shows that hard work pays off. It means a lot to me. I just try to go out and be the best I can be."Ericka Russell led the Crimson Tide with 16 points. Tierney Jenkins added 14 points and Varisa Raffington 13 for Alabama.Alabama hung close for much of the first half and took a 17-14 lead with 7:52 left before Louisville rallied with a 12-0 run to regain the lead for good.