Pfeiffer and Elliott Total 49 Points in Rout of Tide
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Junior guard Jenny Pfeiffer (North Vernon, Ind.) scored a career-high 29 points and Sarah Elliott (McKee, Ky.) added a season-best 20 points Sunday as the Wildcats defeated Alabama 80-60 on Senior Day in Rupp Arena.
The Wildcats (20-7, 9-5 Southeastern Conference) reached the 20-win plateau for the first time since the 1998-99 season and secured a No. 4 seed and first-round bye in the Southeastern Conference Tournament next week.
Kentucky will play an opponent to be determined on Friday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m. EST. This marks the first time since the SEC expanded to 12 teams in the 1991-92 season that the Cats will earn a bye on the opening night of play. It also marks their highest finish in the league (fourth) since tying for second in 1982-83.
"It was a great win to finish up the regular season," UK Coach Mickie DeMoss said. "It was great to get the 20th win and secure the fourth seed in the SEC Tournament. I thought it was total team effort where different people stepped up at different times. I thought Sarah Elliott and (Jenny) Pfeiffer stepped up big on the offensive end. Jenn'e Jackson also came off the bench to give us some really good minutes. Samantha Mahoney hung tough (as well). I just thought it was a total team effort."
Pfeiffer scored 19 of her game-high 29 points in the second half and Elliott added a season-high 20, marking the first time since Feb. 1, 2004 that two Wildcats have scored 20 or more points in a game. Pfeiffer tied her career high with six three-pointers made. She connected on 6-of-12 shots from long range. Elliott chipped in six rebounds to complement her 8-of-9 shooting from the floor.
Sophomore guard Samantha Mahoney (Detroit) added 10 points, while sophomore forward/center Eleia Roddy (Columbus, Ohio) brought down a team-high 10 rebounds.
In the first half, Alabama was sparked by the hot shooting of junior Navonda Moore. The Tide's leading scorer netted 5-of-6 three-pointers en route to a team-high 22 points at the break. With the score knotted at 24 with 4:10 to go in the first half, free throws by Carly Ormerod and a jumper by Elliott helped UK get back on top 27-24 with 2:42 remaining. The Wildcats, who closed the half on a 6-0 run, led 31-28 at intermission and would not trail the rest of the way.
"I thought we started to work a lot harder on the offensive end in the second half," DeMoss said. "We were standing around a lot (in the first half). They (Alabama) were playing an aggressive match up zone that causes a lot of standing around. I thought Sarah Elliot really stepped it up in the second half. I thought we found her inside and then Jenny Pfeiffer began knocking threes down and got to the free throw line."
The Cats continued their momentum out of the locker room at halftime and took a 39-32 advantage on back-to-back baskets by Mahoney with 13:15 remaining in the game. With the Wildcats leading 48-44, a three-pointer by Pfeiffer sparked a 5-0 UK run.
On the ensuing possession, Nastassia Alcius (Lexington, Ky.) stole the ball and drove the length of the court for a lay-up with 10:15 left in the game. Two consecutive baskets by Elliott with 6:58 remaining moved UK in front by 10, 57-47, and Kentucky would lead by as many as 19 points (77-58) with 1:10 left before capturing the 20-point win. Moore, who led Alabama with 24 points, scored just two points in the second half.
"Any time she (Pfeiffer) can hit a three, we feed off that," DeMoss said. "I thought Nastassia (Alcius) really did a nice job in the second half, defensively on (Navonda) Moore. She (Moore) really hurt us in the first half. I challenged our team to do a better job on her (Moore) because she was on her way to having All-American night. I thought they (UK) accepted that challenge, especially Nastassia. Her defense made a difference."
Senior Stephanie Stumbo (Hoover, Ala.), who earned her first career start Sunday, was honored before the final home game of her career. Stumbo played three minutes, grabbed a rebound and took a charge in her home finale.
The Wildcats, who led 31-28 at halftime, connected on 80.8 percent (21-of-26) of their free-throws and made 44.1 percent (26-of-59) of their shots from the field. Kentucky improved to 236-18 all-time when scoring 80 or more points in a game. Alabama (9-18, 3-11) was limited to just 32.3 percent (20-of-62) percent shooting from the floor.
The Wildcats improve to 16-15 in the all-time series with the Crimson Tide. UK has now won three consecutive meetings with Alabama in Lexington.
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