Cats Force 40 Turnovers, Cruise to 93-48 Win over Devilettes

Jan. 1, 2010

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women's basketball team forced a school-record 40 turnovers and cruised to a 93-48 rout of Mississippi Valley State on Friday, Jan. 1 in front of 5,921 fans in Memorial Coliseum.

Junior forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) scored a game-high 21 points in the win, while freshman guard A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) added 17 points and a career-high eight steals. Junior guard Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.) followed with 11 points for Kentucky, which won its 10th straight home.

“It is good to bring in the New Year with a win and we were happy to be able to get this one tonight,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “The players played hard in the second half and I thought that we were able to overcome a sluggish first half. I am happy that we have finished out the non-conference portion of our schedule with a win. Now, the tough stuff starts and Southeastern Conference play lies ahead. We are excited to undertake that and see where we can go with this team.”

Despite a sluggish start that saw the Devilettes (3-8) take a 10-plus rebounding advantage and trail by only seven points (27-20) with 6:27 to go in the first half, Kentucky (12-1) relied on its defensive pressure to provide a much-needed boost. The Cats scored 21 points off 20 first-half turnovers by Mississippi Valley State to grab a 39-25 halftime advantage. Mathies scored 10 points and swiped four steals in the first stanza while Morrow scored nine of her 11 points in the first half.

“Tonight, the first half was not where we wanted it to be, but to the players' credit, they got that turned around,” Mitchell said. “If I knew exactly why it happens then I could prevent it, but it just was a tough start for us. I was happy we turned it around though.”

After Mississippi Valley State guard Ashley Brown's three-pointer pulled the Devilettes to within 14-12 of Kentucky at 13:59, Mathies answered with five points during an 8-2 run to give the Wildcats a 22-14 lead. MSVU scored the next two baskets before Kentucky pulled away with a 17-7 run to lead 39-25 at the break. Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.) scored five points and Lydia Watkins (Hopkinsville, Ky.) had four points to spark the run. Kentucky held the Devilettes without a field goal the final 6:27 of the first half.

In the second half, the Cats looked like their old selves again as they forced five turnovers in the first three minutes. Dunlap, who had only six points in the first half, scored UK's first 10 points in the second half, propelling the Cats to a 20-point lead (57-37) with 11:19 to go.  From there, UK went on a 13-0 run and took a 30-point advantage at the 7:17 mark. A 16-0 run in the final six minutes helped push the lead to 45 (88-43) and the Cats cruised to their 14 th consecutive win at home against a non-conference opponent.

“Everybody in the room (at halftime) recognized that we were not playing up to the standard that the team has set,” Mitchell said. “This team has set the standard with what they have done. I don't have to get in there and scream and yell, but that doesn't mean that I won't at some point in the season. I didn't tonight. I just told them that it wasn't up to the standard that they themselves had set.”

UK shot 47.1 percent from the field (32-of-68), but once again struggled at the free-throw line, hitting just 23-of-41 attempts (56.1 percent). The Cats also were outrebounded 42-40, but outscored MVSU in points in the paint, 44-22. Ten of 11 players that saw action scored at least three points. All 11 Wildcats grabbed at least one rebound.

Ashley Brown and KaNeisha Smith led the Devilettes with 17 and 11 points, respectively.

The Wildcats, who open league play Thursday, Jan. 7 at No. 9/8 Georgia, completed their non-conference schedule with an impressive 12-1 record. The only loss came at Middle Tennessee last week, 57-51. It marks just the fifth time in school history and the first since the 1990-91 campaign that the Cats have won 12 of their first 13 games of the season. The achievement also was reached during the 1982-83, 1980-81, and 1979-80 seasons.

UK now leads the series 2-0 and is 6-0 all-time against teams from the Devilette's Southwest Athletic Conference.