Fast Start Propels Cats Over UC Santa Barbara

Dec. 21, 2008

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Paced by 20 first-half points from junior guard Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.), the Kentucky women’s basketball team jumped out to a quick lead and never let up, cruising to a 69-58 victory over UC Santa Barbara Sunday in Memorial Coliseum. Sophomore forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) followed with 16 points while senior center Eleia Roddy (Columbus, Ohio) charted 14 points and 10 rebounds for her ninth career and fourth consecutive double-double.

“This win is a great way for us going into our holiday break,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “UC Santa Barbara has a great program and I thought that they played really hard and never gave up today. The key to the win was the way we came out and played well early. We put UC Santa Barbara in a situation where it was going to be difficult for them to win by the way we played early. We did a good job withstanding any run they could put together and I am really happy that we are going into Christmas break with a victory.”

Kentucky (7-5) jumped out early on the Gauchos (3-6) after sophomore point guard Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) nailed one of UK’s season-high seven three-pointers just 30 seconds into the game. Smith’s three-pointer sparked a scoring spree that was contagious for the rest of the Wildcat starters. UK’s starting five scored all 40 of their points en route to a 17-point halftime lead (40-23). It marked the largest advantage at the half for the Cats this season. Franklin drained a school record-tying five three-pointers in the first 20 minutes as UK went 7-of-11 from the perimeter.

“What was so great about her play in the first half was for her to come out and make shots and give everybody else confidence,” Mitchell said. “When a player gets on a roll like that it gives all of us confidence that we can score and get the job done, too. I will take 20 points from Amani in the first half every time. If she scored 20 points a game we would be in great shape. I am really happy with her play in the first half.”

The Wildcats continued to lead throughout the second half despite a 7-1 run by UCSB that cut the deficit to 12 on two occasions. However, the Gauchos were not able to get any closer as Roddy scored six of UK’s next 10 points and UK increased its lead to as many as 21 points with 6:16 to play. UCSB, led by Whitney Warren’s 16 points, continued to fight in the closing minutes but the Cats held on for the 69-58 victory.

Roddy becomes just the fourth player in school history to chart four or more consecutive double-doubles in a season. The last Wildcat to accomplish the feat was Jocelyn Mills with four in 1991. Leslie Nichols also charted four-straight in 1985 while Valerie Still recorded a school-record 11 straight double-doubles during the 1982-83 season.

The Cats won the rebounding battle for the seventh game in a row, outrebounding the Gauchos 36-31. UK also held UCSB to 44.2 percent shooting (23-of-52) and has now held all 12 of their opponents to 50.0 percent shooting or less this season.

This was the first meeting between Kentucky and UC Santa Barbara. UK is now 4-0 all-time vs. teams from the Gauchos’ Big West Conference.

After a short break for the holidays, the Wildcats return home to close out 2008 with a matchup against IUPUI Tuesday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. EST in Memorial Coliseum.