After over half a year of waiting basketball has finally returned to Louisville, and after a series of scrimmages the #5 Cardinals play their only preseason game against Bellarmine.
And despite being down two starters, Louisville broke away in the final minutes of the game to win 75-65.
Bellarmine has been a traditional opponent of Louisville for the years in the regular and preseason. But with the school’s imminent move to Division I athletics next year, the future of the series may be in doubt.
Louisville has its highest preseason ranking in years, and with returning starters like Jordan Nwora and a highly rated group of freshmen they’re looking earn that ranking and more.
The Knights are no pushovers. They lost in the Sweet 16 of last year’s NCAA Division II tournament and are a top ten team again this year.
The Cards would be a little short-handed tonight, as both centers Steven Enoch and Malik Williams as well as point guard David Johnson were out with injuries. That put Dwayne Sutton, who provided much needed toughness and tenacity for the Cards last season, at the five spot.
The Knights kept up with Louisville for most of the first half and were up 35-33 at halftime. The Cards outrebounded Bellarmine in the first half 22-14, but they did have six turnovers and that combined with their being shorthanded allowed the Knights to be able to run with Louisville.
At the start of the second half Louisville went on a run thanks to five straight points from Dwayne Sutton, but Bellarmine was able to battle back. The second half unfolded much like the first, with the teams swapping leads and neither able to get too far ahead of the other.
The Cards were kept in the game mainly by Jordan Nwora, who seemed to always be there to grab a crucial rebound or hit a timely shot to either keep Louisville in the running or keep the Knights at bay.
Finally, in the last few minutes of the game Louisville was able to break away and get the lead to double digits before the end.
Despite not having their primary big men, the Cards dominated Bellarmine inside, outrebounding the Knights 40-26, which lead to 17 second-chance points. Louisville was also able to beat Bellarmine in transition, scoring 10 fast break points to the Knights’ zero.
Jordan Nwora led the team in scoring with 28 points on 10-21 shooting including five three-pointers. He also had five assists and five rebounds.
Dwayne Sutton had a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. Samuell Williamson almost had a double-double, scoring 17 points and grabbing nine boards.
Darius Perry was the only other Cardinal to score in double-figures with 10 points.
Louisville begins their regular season, hopefully with some players back from injury, against Miami on November 5.<