El Ellis scored 28 points, and the University of Louisville men’s basketball team made 26 of 32 free throws Thursday on its way to an 80-73 exhibition win over Chaminade at the KFC Yum! Center.
“The first thing I want to say about today’s game is that I am proud of our guys,” Louisville head coach Kenny Payne said. “There was improvement from the first exhibition to this game. We scored 80 points or so, but we played better. There were some areas of concern like toughness around the basket and rebounding the ball. … In order for us to be a good defensive team, we have to be of one accord. We have to be on a string with each other. We have to make the passes hard, the shots hard and be contested. We have to help each other using our voices. There were points where we did it. There were a lot of parts, most of the game where we did. We have to get better in those areas.
“But overall, I am happy there is growth. I am happy for those kids that they walked out of here with a win and that is important to them.”
The senior guard Ellis made 13 of 15 free throws and added six rebounds and five assists to his game-high 28 points.
“Being in foul trouble last week was tough, so just being able to get out of that hole that I was in,” Ellis said. “I wouldn’t have been able to be aggressive if I hadn’t stayed out of fouling. Being able to play free tonight, be able to facilitate, and just be aggressive, that’s what I do.”
Redshirt junior forward Jae’Lyn Withers had 17 points and nine rebounds, while junior forward JJ Traynor chipped in 12 points and eight boards, including several crucial late rebounds.
A three-point play off the fast break from Ellis late in the first half made it 42-32 Louisville at halftime, but Chaminade raced in front early in the second half with a 16-0 burst.
The teams traded the lead several times, with freshman forward Kamari Lands helping UofL take a stand multiple times. His 3-pointer tied the game at 63-all with 6:26 left, and then his pair of free throws put the Cardinals on top.
Ellis tacked on another three-point play with 2:41 remaining to make it 74-67. He and Withers combined to make six free throws in the last 51 seconds to ice it.
“I say that we realized, or we understood, what was needed in order to win the game,” Withers said. “That was to be energetic and to make it a dogfight. I mean, we had to rebound a lot better than we did in the first half, so I say that was it.”
Braden Olsen led Chaminade with 27 points.
The Cardinals open the regular season at home next week against Bellarmine at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday. The game will air on the ACC Network.
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