LEXINGTON, Ky. – Senior center Eleia Roddy (Columbus, Ohio) posted her third consecutive double-double with a career high-tying 17 points and 12 rebounds as the Kentucky women’s basketball team cruised to a 65-45 victory over Alabama A&M in front of 4,063 fans in Memorial Coliseum Friday night. Sophomore forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) followed with 15 points while junior guard Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.) added 14.
“We are really happy tonight to get a victory,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We needed a win to get back on the winning side and it is great to be able to do that tonight. We have a quick turnaround with a game on Sunday, so we will have to enjoy this one for a very short time and then get back at it Sunday.”
A strong first half, paced by Roddy’s 11 points and an 18-4 margin in second-chance points, resulted in a 40-27 halftime lead for the Wildcats. The teams traded baskets to start the game before Franklin netted three-straight field goals, including two three-pointers, to give UK a nine-point 19-10 lead with 10:28 to go in the opening stanza. UK hit 11-of-15 from the free throw line in the opening half and outrebounded the visiting Bulldogs 24-18 to build its 13-point lead.
“In the first half I thought that we had a couple of chances to blow the game open and some little things happened where we weren’t able to do that,” Mitchell said. “There were some 50-50 balls that they got and we had some loose fouls that prevented us from breaking the game open. I really wanted to play well today and break the game open early. I thought that we only did that in spurts tonight and not for 40 minutes.”
The Wildcats (6-5) pulled ahead by 20 (51-31) with 13:37 left in the second half before Alabama A&M (2-6) mounted a comeback. The Bulldogs went on a 9-0 run over the next four minutes to pull within 11 points (51-40) with 9:35 to go. The charge was led Katrich Williams who scored five of her team-high 14 points during that span. With the lead dwindling, UK looked to its leader in the paint, Eleia Roddy. The senior grabbed two three rebounds (two defensive and one offensive), scored four points and charted a block in helping push the Cats’ lead to 55-40 with 7:08 left. UK went on to outscore the Bulldogs 6-0 in the final 2:13 to post the 20-point victory.
“I thought that Eleia made some big plays for us tonight especially when we were struggling to score,” Mitchell said. “I thought that in the first half we didn’t get the ball inside to her enough. Her experience, physical strength and ability to score are important for us. She can really finish plays on the defensive end because she is such a strong rebounder.”
This was Roddy’s eighth career and fourth double-double of the season. She also posted double-doubles against WKU (15 points/11 rebounds), ETSU (13 points/11 rebounds), and Louisville (13 points/15 rebounds).
““When I was healthy my sophomore year, I had four double-doubles on the season,” Roddy said. “I know that I can get more than that this season. I definitely want to surpass that number. Individual stats motivate me, but I want to win. If we lose, but I have a good game, I’m upset because we didn’t win. In the last few games we’ve lost, I can see baskets or plays I could have made to help us win.
Rebounding and defense also were keys to the victory tonight. The Cats won the rebounding battle for the fifth consecutive game (48-35) and held the Bulldogs (2-6) to just 25.0 percent shooting (15-of-60). It marked the third time this season UK has held its opponent to under 30 percent from the floor. UK shot 40.0 percent from the field (22-of-55) but hit just 3-of-13 from the perimeter (23.1 percent). Both teams struggled to take care of the ball as UK committed 22 turnovers while Alabama A&M had 22.
UK played without veteran point guard Carly Ormerod (Louisville, Ky.) for the fifth-straight game. The senior is sitting out due to soreness from sesamoiditis and turf toe in her left foot. Because of her injury, sophomore point guard Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) was forced to play over 36 minutes for the third consecutive game. She finished with seven points, three assists and two steals.
Williams led the visiting Bulldogs with 14 points.
The Wildcats have a quick turnaround as they play host to first-time opponent UC Santa Barbara Sunday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. EST in Memorial Coliseum. The Gauchos (3-5) are coming off a heart-breaking 61-59 loss to Harvard on Wednesday.