LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — With each missed fourth-quarter free throw, No. 5 Louisville drew closer to discovering the hard way how much every point mattered against No. 19 Kentucky.
All of which made the Cardinals appreciate the few they made to escape the archrival Wildcats.
Asia Durr scored 32 points and made the first of several critical free throws down the stretch that helped Louisville hold off Kentucky 80-75 on Sunday. The victory earned Bluegrass bragging rights for the third year in a row for the Cardinals, but only after they nearly let it slip away at the foul line.
The Cardinals (10-0) appeared to have the game in control with an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter and a 67-52 lead entering the fourth. But Kentucky rallied to within four twice in the final 30 seconds as Louisville missed the front end of several opportunities in the final minutes that would have sealed the game.
Durr's second foul shot with 25 seconds left gave Louisville a 78-73 cushion and Sam Fuehring made one of two from the line 11 seconds later to make it 79-73. Maci Morris' jumper brought Kentucky (9-1) within four before Arica Carter finally sealed it, making the second of two free throws with five seconds left.
"I don't know what was up at the free throw line," Fuehring said about Louisville's 5-of-12 shooting from the line. "Everybody (was) just missing their first shot and feeling like because we saw our teammates miss their first shot, it was so much pressure for us to make it because other teammates would make their first shot.
"It wasn't nerve wracking, just mental with us."
Louisville coach Jeff Walz added, "I've seen better. You've got to step up and make 2 of 2. I'm not even sure what it was the last three minutes, I'm waiting to go back and look. It was bad."
Especially since Louisville looked so good for the first 35 minutes thanks to Durr.
The senior did much of her damage with 19 first-half points and finished a point off her season high. Durr made 13 of 25 to help lead Louisville's 56 percent shooting, which came in handy as it made just 15 of 28 from the free-throw line.
Fuehring and Jazmine Jones each added 12 points, Bionca Dunham had 11 and Dana Evans 10 for Louisville.
Rhyne Howard had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Kentucky, which sought a signature win over its rival after beating, Virginia, UCLA and North Carolina last month. Taylor Murray added 18 points, with a big second half that helped the Wildcats rally.
"I'm proud of our team's fight," Wildcats coach Matthew Mitchell said. "We just struggled a large majority of the game. This is what we needed. ... We will get better for this one."
Jones' layup gave Louisville its biggest lead at 59-41 late in third quarter but also change the momentum as the junior also drew a technical foul. The Cardinals and Walz seemed bothered that the call followed her emotional response from making a key basket.
"She was getting hyped," Durr said. "She just scored and got fouled. I mean, why can't you get hyped?"
Louisville reinforced its top-five standing with another quality win, albeit close. Kentucky figures to drop a few spots in the rankings.
Kentucky: The Wildcats outrebounded Louisville 32-28 but dug a big hole with 4-of-15 shooting (27 percent) in the second quarter. Howard seemed poised to do it all by herself until Murray got hot to lead a second-half rally that almost succeeded.
Louisville: The Cardinals shot well throughout but appeared to tire in the fourth quarter. The free throw shooting nearly cost them, but didn't because they won the paint 42-28 and outscored Kentucky 12-0 on the break.
Kentucky hosts Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
Louisville hosts Northern Kentucky on Saturday.