UK Hoops Wins Exhibition Over Coker College, 86-44

Nov. 6, 2011

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 18/15 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team won its lone exhibition in preparation for the 2011-12 season, racing past Division II foe Coker College by a score of 86-44 in Memorial Coliseum on Sunday.

Coach Matthew Mitchell and the Wildcats relied on their signature pressure defense to hold the visiting Cobras to 26.9-percent shooting from the field. UK also forced 40 turnovers, tallying 15 steals and scoring 45 points off Coker miscues. On three separate occasions, the Kentucky defense held the visitors scoreless for at least five consecutive minutes.

“What we did was not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t care who you’re playing, it takes a lot of energy and effort to create 40 turnovers,” Mitchell said. “That is a good sign for our team.”

UK benefited from a balanced offensive effort, with all 11 Wildcats who played scoring at least two points. Freshman Bria Goss (Indianapolis) led the Wildcats with 17 points, with Samantha Drake (Bardstown, Ky.) (11), A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) (10), Maegan Conwright (Arlington, Texas) (10) and Brittany Henderson (Pasadena, Calif.) (10) joining Goss in double figures.

“Bria has demonstrated so far in her career at Kentucky that she’s a fine young woman,” Mitchell said. “She does what you ask of her. She tries harder than anyone on our team. If you ask her to do something, she is going to try extremely hard to get that done. That is a joy to coach.”

UK sprinted out to an early 26-5 lead, but Coker responded to cut UK’s lead to 32-21 at the half and actually outrebounded the Wildcats 28-22.To start the second half, UK put together a 29-0 run, holding Coker scoreless for the first 8:50 of the second half. Paced by the 29-0 run, the Cats extended their lead to 40 points, and would not lead by fewer than 35 the rest of the way.

“Clearly we did some good things and I think the exhibition game is all about trying to find out some things we need to work on and there are plenty of things we need to work on,” Mitchell said. “All in all I’m glad to have this experience under our belt and excited to get the season started on Friday.”

Senior point guard Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) made her return to the court after sitting out the 2010-11 season with a knee injury. She played just 12 minutes, scoring two points, dishing out two assists and making a few of the crowd-pleasing plays that made her a key cog in UK’s 2010 Elite Eight run.

“She and I have been talking about her focusing on progress, and I thought today was progress for her,” Mitchell said. “I thought she had a really good run out there. Not a lot of minutes, but I thought it was a step in the right direction for her and you saw some flashes of the things she can do.”

Leading Coker College as head coach was former Kentucky guard Jenny Pfeiffer Finora (2003-04, 2006-07). Finora, a captain during her time at UK, ranks as the all-time leader in free-throw shooting percentage (86.1) and is third in 3-point field goals made (162).

“I’d like to compliment Coker and it was very special to have Jenny come back and coach a team on the court where she played so many great games,” Mitchell said. “I was very impressed with how prepared her team was and how in shape they were. I’m really hoping Coker College has a great year.”

Jessica Cohen had 17 points and 20 rebounds for the Cobras. Kelley Godbout added 12 points.

“It felt really good to be back,” Finora said. “It was a good challenge for us and I’m glad our kids got the opportunity to do this. I wish Kentucky the best of luck. I hope to see them in the Final Four and all the way. I think they have a lot of talented kids and the sky is the limit for them.”

Kentucky opens the regular season on the road against in-state rival Morehead State Friday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. ET. Mitchell served as the head coach of the Lady Eagles for two seasons prior to coming to Kentucky (2005-07).