Cats Defeat McNeese State to Improve Winning Streak to Six
Nov. 28, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women's basketball team improved to 6-0 on the season and broke the school record for wins in the month of November with a resounding 85-50 win over McNeese State in front of 4,140 fans in Memorial Coliseum Saturday afternoon.
The previous record of wins in November was five, set by the 1984-85 squad. Kentucky's all-time mark in November is 83-38 (.685).
“It was a good win for us and I am proud of the players today,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “I thought that we were a little out of sync offensively in the first half, but I think that we came back and had a better effort in the second half offensively. I thought that the players did a good job of regaining their intensity when we lost it at times. We finished the game strong. It is good to get a win today and good to be 6-0. We will keep trying to improve.”
Junior forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) led all scorers with 19 points while senior guard/forward Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.) pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds in the win. Also scoring in double figures were freshman A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) with 16 and sophomore Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.) with a career-high 13 points. Junior point guard Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) dished out a career-high tying eight assists in helping the Cats record a season-high 21 assists, the most since the season opener vs. USC-Upstate in 2007.
Kentucky took control of the game midway through the first half, erasing a 12-9 deficit with a 15-0 run over a six-minute span. Six different Wildcats scored during the run lead by Dunlap's four points. UK took its largest lead of the half at 32-16 with 2:38 remaining and held on for a 35-25 advantage at the break. Snowden helped spark the Cats offensively as she came off the bench to nail two three-pointers en route to 11 first-half points.
“I thought that (Keyla) was more aggressive than anybody in the first half, and I told her that at halftime,” Mitchell said. “What created that was her defense intensity. I know that she can play offense. She drives the ball well and knows what to do with it. I have been trying to get her to turn it up on the defensive end and she did that today.”
UK used an 11-0 run to open the second half and did not allow a basket by McNeese State for over five minutes. The Wildcats extended the lead to 49-29 on a Dunlap layup with 14:23 remaining and never allowed the Cowgirls to pull within 20 points again.
All 10 players that saw action for Kentucky scored at least one point in UK's largest margin of victory since a 35-point win over Furman in 2008.
“It was very good to be able to get everybody in and get everybody some time today,” Mitchell said. “That is a key for us moving forward in the long-term. We need to be able to play a lot of players because of the intensity we need to play with defensively. A few times you can see them give a lot on the press and working hard and you need to be able to get them out after that to give them a breather and keep the intensity going.”
The Wildcats' pressure defense and full-court press were in full effect today as it forced 13 turnovers in the opening stanza for the second consecutive game. McNeese totaled 25 total turnovers, resulting in 31 points for the Wildcats.
“Their defensive pressure is really good and tough,” McNeese Coach Brooks Donald Williams said. “I think (Kentucky's) defense causes complete chaos. It really makes other teams struggle to get anything going on the offensive end. I know they are going to be very successful down the road with that defensive effort. It is impressive that even when they are up 20 or 30, they'll come at you with the same intensity and fire, in full and half court. That is tough for teams to do, and Kentucky did that today.”
The Cats' defense held McNeese to just 28.8 percent shooting (17-of-59), including a 22.6 percent mark in the second half. UK, on the other hand, shot a season-high 50.8 percent from the floor (32-of-63), marking the first time the Cats have hit 50 percent or better since vs. South Carolina (3/1/09). It also marked the fourth consecutive game Kentucky has held an opponent under 60 points. No opponent has scored over 66 points against the Cats this season.
McNeese State (2-3) was led by Kiara Johnson's 17 points.
Today was the first meeting between the teams. Kentucky improves to 3-0 against teams from the Southland Conference.
Kentucky returns to Memorial Coliseum Tuesday, Dec. 1 when it plays host to Miami (Ohio), at 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network with Neil Price.