No. 25 Cats Face Auburn on National Girls and Women in Sports Day and Alumni Day
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The 25th-ranked University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will help celebrate the 24th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day Sunday, Jan. 24 when the Wildcats meet Auburn in Memorial Coliseum. Game time is set for 2 p.m. EST and it will be broadcast live on the SEC Network (TV) and Big Blue Sports Network (radio).
Three special VIPs and former UK student-athletes, Stacey Reed Sheppard (women’s basketball), Ashley Trimble (track and field) and Mallory Blackwelder (women’s golf) will join student-athletes from each of UK’s female varsity sports teams for a pregame autograph session beginning at 1 p.m. on the west concourse in Memorial Coliseum. A special limited edition poster will be available for the first 1,000 fans. Sunday also is Alumni Day. Women’s Basketball alumni in attendance will be introduced at halftime, along with the current UK female student-athletes in attendance and the three VIP guests.
Single-game general admission tickets are available for $5 adults/$2 senior citizens and children 6-18. Ages five and under are admitted free. UK students, faculty and staff also are admitted free with valid identification based on availability. For further ticket information, log on to UKathletics.com or call the UK ticket office at 859-257-1818 or 1-800-928-CATS (2287).
Fans are encouraged to park in Parking Structure 5 located next to Kennedy’s Bookstore on Limestone Avenue. Parking within Parking Structure 5 will be available free of charge. A shuttle bus service also will be provided and begins one hour prior to game time until one hour after the game. Additional game day parking is available in the E lots surrounding Memorial Coliseum including the Martin Luther King Parking Lot and the Student Center Parking Lot (only a limited number of spaces will be available in this lot due to an event at the Singletary Center Art Museum).
Sunday is one of more than 1,000 events taking place across the country for National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Congress has proclaimed this national day each year since 1987. It recognizes the progress of girls and women in sports and the benefits that sports and fitness activities can bring the lives of all girls and women. The day is organized nationally by the Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Incorporated, National Association for Girls and Women in Sport, the National Women’s Law Center and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
“First off, to have those three athletes (Stacey Reed Sheppard, Ashley Trimble and Mallory Blackwelder) on Sunday to join us will be significant,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “All of them have made tremendous contributions to our athletics program. It is a great day for us to showcase women in sports and to inspire young girls here in the Commonwealth to dream big dreams to achieve in various sports. So we are representing a basketball player, a golfer and a track and field athlete. They are all very gracious with their time to come in and be a source of encouragement to young girls. We are excited about that and all women in sports. I hope that will be a good day for us and I know it will be.”
Surrounding the festivities, the Wildcats (15-3, 3-2 SEC) are looking to continue their winning ways after back-to-back victories over Alabama (88-63) and Arkansas (69-52). UK, which is just one win shy of last year’s win total (16), has won 13 consecutive home games, a streak that ranks tied for fourth in school history.
The Tigers (11-8, 2-4 SEC) enter Sunday’s game looking to snap a two-game losing skid after a heartbreaking 61-60 loss to No. 21/20 Vanderbilt on Thursday. Senior and 6-foot-7 center KeKe Carrier, who entered the game averaging an SEC-high 19.0 points per game in league play, was held to just four points and two rebounds after suffering a hamstring injury less than three minutes into the game. Junior guard Alli Smalley went on to lead the Tigers with 19 points.
Auburn also fell to South Carolina, 63-49, last week. Prior to the USC game, the Tigers were riding a two-game SEC win streak after taking down 11th-ranked LSU (64-62, OT) and in-state rival Alabama (74-62).
“Auburn, posses a tremendous challenge for us,” Mitchell said. “They are a team that has already gone on the road and beat LSU. They are familiar with going on the road and having success in the league and not a lot of people have been able to do that yet. It will be a tough game. They have probably the most powerful, and the statistics bear this out, potent post player in the conference in Keke Carrier. She is someone of great concern for us and it will be a tough matchup. Then they have one of the most explosive guards in Alli Smalley. She is just outstanding and their supporting cast is tremendous. It is another big challenge for us and our team needs to do whatever we can and put in as much effort as we can to prepare for them. A win on Sunday, would be very big for us.”
With its up-tempo style of basketball, it's no surprise that Kentucky is among the most productive offensive teams in the SEC. The Wildcats currently lead the league and rank 11th nationally in scoring offense at 78.8 points per game. It's a team effort as just one player (junior All-SEC forward Victoria Dunlap, 4th-17.6 ppg) ranks in the top 20 in scoring. In conference action, UK ranks second at 70.2 points per contest.
UK’s defense has been very effective as well, holding opponents to 56.3 points per game, ranking third in the SEC. The Cats have held 12 of their last 16 opponents to 60 points or less and they are allowing teams to shoot just .369 from the field, including .286 from 3-point range.
Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) continues to lead UK in almost every UK statistical category. She is tops on the team in scoring (17.7 ppg), rebounding (8.8 rpg), steals (3.7 spg) and blocks (2.1). Following Dunlap in the scoring column is freshman guard A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) and junior point guard Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) with 11.8 and 10.7 ppg, respectively.
Leading the way for Auburn is Smalley with 15.2 points per game. Carrier follows with 14.2 points to go along with her team-high 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
Sunday marks the 36th meeting in the all-time series with Auburn owning a 24-11 advantage, including a 10-4 lead over Kentucky in Lexington. The Cats have won the two of the last three matchups against the Tigers. Auburn won last year’s meeting in Auburn, Ala., 81-69.
Women in Sports Day Honorees
Stacey Reed Sheppard
Stacey Reed Sheppard was a four-year starter under Sharon Fanning from 1992-95. The London, Ky., native led the Wildcats in scoring both her junior and senior seasons, and assists and steals during all four years at Kentucky.
She broke UK’s all-time career steals record with 309, a mark that still stands today. The three-time All-SEC selection was the last Wildcat to be named to the first team, earning the honor during her junior year after averaging 18.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 3.4 steals per game.
Sheppard ranks in the top 10 of 12 different UK career statistical categories, including scoring, field goals made, field goals attempted, 3-point field goal made, 3-point field goals attempted, free throws made, free throws attempted, free throw percentage, assists, assists per game, steals and steals per game. She is one of just 26 players in school history to score over 1,000 points in a career.
She also did an outstanding job of representing the United States during her collegiate career. She won a silver medal as a member of the Women’s World University Games team and helped the USA Basketball’s Jones Cup team to a Gold medal in Taiwan. Prior to her sophomore season in 1992, she also was a member of the USA Junior Select team.
Sheppard graduated in 1995 with a degree in health education. She is married to former Wildcat and Most Outstanding Player of the 1998 Final Four, Jeff Sheppard and the couple has two children, daughter Madison and son Reed. She currently is the vice president of marketing for their family business, 15inc, a private label apparel company.
Track and Field
UK Track and Field’s Ashley Trimble began her career just as she ended it, in record breaking fashion. Still the school freshman record holder in 400 hurdles, she earned her first SEC championship as a member of the school’s distance medley relay team that season. She was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll her sophomore year before earning All-SEC 2nd team in the pentathlon her junior year. Her senior year she became the first woman in school history to capture an indoor Southeastern Conference women's pentathlon title. Trimble rallied from fifth place on the final event to claim the title with a school-record and NCAA provisional-qualifying score of 3,991 that placed 11th nationally. She went on to earn All-America honors for her performance at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track Championships.
Ashley completed her art studio degree in December and is completing a photography internship along with coaching high school track and field at Tates Creek High School in Lexington. She still trains with the UK team in anticipation of the USA meet in June.
In only two seasons at Kentucky, Mallory Blackwelder solidified herself as one of the most prolific golfers in school history.
Joining the Wildcats as a junior during the 2007-08 season, Blackwelder made an immediate impact, recording three top-10 finishes and leading the squad to two top-five finishes. Blackwelder also advanced to post-season play, competing as an individual in the NCAA Championships West Regional.
Playing in 29 rounds her junior season, Blackwelder set the school record for par or better rounds with six. The Versailles, Ky., native also broke the 20-year-old scoring average record with a 75.34 stroke average.
As a senior, Blackwelder helped lead the Wildcats to seven top-10 finishes, including first place at the Lady Mocs Intercollegiate. In Chattanooga, Blackwelder took first place as an individual for her first collegiate victory. Blackwelder also helped lead the Wildcats to their first NCAA Championship team appearance since the 1992 season.
During her time at Kentucky, Blackwelder also competed in two LPGA events in 2008—the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
Aside from her on-course accomplishments, Blackwelder earned many academic achievements during her collegiate golf career. Blackwelder was a member of the SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll, and SEC Academic Honor Roll Honoree in 2007 and 2008. Aditionally, Blackwelder was named the 2009 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. A four-time member of the National Golf Coaches Association All-Scholar Team, Blackwelder was also named to the 2009 ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-American first team in 2009.
Blackwelder graduated from Kentucky in May 2009 with a 4.0 GPA and degree in marketing. This winter, Mallory went through qualification for both the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour, earning status on the LPGA, LET and DuraMed Futures Tours. She combines with her mother, Myra, also a UK alum, as the first mother-daughter duo in LPGA tour history. Mallory will head to Morocco in March to begin her first full professional season in the Lalla Meryem Cup tournament.