The start of the Kenny Payne era at Louisville could have gotten off to a much better start.
The Cardinals will try to shake off a season-opening loss to local rival Bellarmine when they return to the court Saturday to host Wright State.
Bellarmine — a private university in Louisville entering just its third season playing Division I basketball — led by as many as 14 points before staving off Louisville’s attempted comeback Wednesday in a 67-66 upset.
Jae’Lyn Withers led Louisville (0-1) with 17 points, Mike James scored 16 — including a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to one point with 1:02 to go — and El Ellis had 14 with a game-high five assists.
“First of all, there was some growth,” Payne said. “It wasn’t all bad. We lost that game by one. If you go back through from the beginning to the end, there were 20 possessions that were wasted. There were defensive lapses that we just gave up on. I am saying this to the guys in the locker room: ‘Possession by possession defensively, make it as hard as you can.'”
Payne took over at his alma mater after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant coach for the New York Knicks.
The Cardinals will get another crack at a win when they welcome Wright State (0-1) of the Horizon League.
Wright State hosted Davidson for its season opener Wednesday and went to two overtimes before falling, 102-97.
Trey Calvin scored a team-high 37 points on 14-of-33 shooting over 43 minutes to carry the Raiders in the loss.
Wright State couldn’t defend a late four-point lead in regulation. It then fell behind 89-82 in the first overtime before storming back in the final 1:42, with Calvin’s jumper with four seconds left forcing the second session.
“We obviously did some things where I was impressed with our kids,” Wright State coach Scott Nagy said, per the Dayton Daily News. “We found out a lot about our kids in terms of our fight.
“I told them before the game and after the game, ‘These seasons are marathons, they’re not sprints. And this is just a couple steps into it.'”
–Field Level Media