UK Hoops Survives Scare, Defeats Cincinnati for 8-0 Start
Dec. 4, 2009
CINCINNATI – Senior forward Lydia Watkins (Hopkinsville, Ky.) came off the bench to record a career-high 18 points and grab a season-high nine rebounds and three steals in helping the Kentucky women's basketball team advance to 8-0 and survive a scare by Cincinnati, 68-57 on Friday morning.
UK is 8-0 for the first time since 2005-06 and are just one win shy of tying the school record set by the 1980-81 squad at 9-0.
Watkins had a near perfect game, hitting 6-of-7 from the field, 6-of-6 from the charity stripe, while grabbing a game-high nine rebounds, including seven defensive boards, a career-high tying three steals, a block and an assist. Junior Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.) followed with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-9 from three-point land while fellow juniors Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) and Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“Lydia Watkins came to play,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “She had an incredible practice on Wednesday and I was so happy to see her come out and play the way she did today.”
It was a hard-fought battle from the start and once again UK had to rely on its defense prowess. The Cats forced 25 turnovers which resulted in 30 points. UK has forced 20-plus turnovers six times this season, including five in a row.
Despite hitting just 13 of 39 attempts (33.3 percent) in the first half, the Wildcats' in-your-face defense forced 17 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, seven coming from steals. UK took a 10 point-lead (28-18) with 4:41 to go but the Bearcats' hot shooting kept them in the game. UC shot 47.6 percent (10-of-21) in the first half and pulled back within four after back-to-back three-pointers from Shanasa Sanders and Stephanie Stevens. UK held a slight 32-26 lead at the break and the momentum had shifted to UC's favor.
The Bearcats (2-5) picked up where they left off after the half, jumping out to a 20-4 run in the opening minutes of the second stanza. Carla Jacobs sparked the comeback, scoring six of her team-high 15 points in the run. The Bearcats took its first lead of the game at the 15:48 mark and held its largest lead at eight (47-39) with 12:51 to go.
The Cats responded with a 9-0 run to regain a three-point lead (50-47) with 7:33 left in the game. During that run, the Cats' defense was the difference. UK forced two shot-clock violations and Dunlap swatted one of her game-high three blocks.