Cats Dominate in Exhibition Win over Bellarmine

Nov. 9, 2009

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women's basketball team used a combination of up-tempo offense and tenacious defense to take a commanding 107-57 victory over NCAA Division II opponent Bellarmine on Monday in Memorial Coliseum.

Junior All-Southeastern Conference forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) looked impressive after posting a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds, both game highs. She also added a game-best four steals and three blocks to lead four Wildcats in double figures. Freshman A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) and sophomore transfer Rebecca Gray (Georgetown, Ky.) combined for 18 points apiece while senior Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.) charted 15. All 10 eligible players saw action in the game with nine Wildcats grabbing a rebound, making a steal and scoring a bucket. Sophomore transfer Crystal Riley (Memphis, Tenn.) will be eligible following the 2009 fall semester in December.

“It was great to get out and play another opponent,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We have been practicing a lot and have been trying to get prepared. There were some good things tonight, but I think there are some things that we still need to work on. One thing I told the team was that I was pleased with the intensity we came out with tonight. That is one thing we talked about before the game was making certain that although this was an exhibition game, every opportunity we have to put on the jersey and play for Kentucky is special. I thought they played with some enthusiasm tonight and I loved the intensity.”

Dunlap gave the Cats' offense a spark from the jump, scoring the first eight points of the game. Bellarmine hung close for the first 10 minutes before UK went on a 20-0 run to put the game out of reach early. The Cats led 44-16 with 1:50 to go in the opening stanza after holding the Knights scoreless for a span of eight minutes.

“We just have more weapons right now,” Mitchell said. “We can't have the mindset that we have arrived or are clicking on all cylinders. I saw a lot of things execution-wise that we can get better on, but when you have the ability to make shots and create some things on the bounce you are going to be tough. A'dia Mathies was able to do that tonight and make some tough plays around the goal and Rebecca Gray showed that she can do more than hit a three-point shot. She put the ball on the floor a little bit. Keyla Snowden made some plays as well. I really thought Victoria Dunlap set the tone for us. All of those things will need to happen for us to be a good offense team but it certainly beats what we did a year ago.”

The Cats also thrived on the defensive end, forcing 34 turnovers, swiping 22 steals and nabbing 32 defensive rebounds, part of 49 caroms on the night. UK also held the Knights to just 33 percent shooting from the field (19-of-57).

“I think that our defense really reflects how we have been playing in practice,” Dunlap said. “The coaches have been pushing us in practice to really be intense on the defensive end and I think that we did that tonight. We still have some things to work on but we did a better job tonight then we have done in years past.”

Junior Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) dished out a game-high six assists to go along with nine points and a pair of rebounds. Freshman Brittany Henderson (Altadena, Calif.) just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds in the game. Sophomore Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.), a transfer from Akron, posted eight points in the game and made three steals.

The second exhibition matchup between the teams was a much different affair than the close 72-69 Kentucky victory last season over the Knights. The hot-shooting Cats eclipsed the 100-point mark for the first time since a 105-45 victory over Tennessee State on Dec. 22, 2005. UK also hit 51.2 percent from the field (42-of-82).

Bellarmine was led by Kylie Brady and Melissa Fitz with 13 points each.

Kentucky will open its 36th season of varsity women's basketball Friday, Nov. 13 against first-time foe Boston University in Memorial Coliseum at 11 a.m. EST. It will mark the first collegiate women's basketball in the nation for the 2009-10 season.