TUSCALOOSA , Ala. – Balance and winning appear to go hand in hand for the UK women's basketball team.
For the sixth straight game, three or more Wildcats scored in double-digits, helping UK (12-6, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) to a 67-57 victory over Alabama (12-6, 0-3 SEC) Thursday night at Coleman Coliseum. It was the Wildcats' seventh win in their last eight games.
The Wildcats got a balanced effort both inside and outside. Four players – two forwards and two guards – scored in double figures to help UK pull out its first conference road win of the year.
“I'm absolutely thrilled to get this win tonight,” UK Hoops Matthew Mitchell said. “I was concerned coming on the road. We're the kind of team that needs to play well in this league to have success. I didn't think we played particularly well in stretches so to be able to come away with a win on a night like tonight was terrific and something I'm very proud we were able to do.”
Senior forward/center Eleia Roddy and sophomore guard Carly Morrow led the Wildcats with career nights. Both notched a career-high 19 points, but they had plenty of help from their supporting cast. Sophomore Victoria Dunlap finished with 16 points, and sophomore guard Amber Smith chipped in with 11 points to seal the game for the UK .
The Wildcats were outscored 28-14 inside the paint and struggled to keep the Crimson Tide off the offensive glass, but don't be fooled, UK won Thursday night thanks to its interior play.
UK 's duo of Roddy and Dunlap down low combined for 35 of the Wildcats' 67 points and both recorded double-digit rebound totals. Dunlap's game-high 12 boards and Roddy's 10 rebounds were good enough for a pair of double-doubles, the first time two UK players recorded double-doubles since Jan. 3 against Miami ( Ohio ).
With the Wildcats clicking on the inside, UK was able to stretch the Alabama defense late in the game.
“It opens (the offense) a lot,” Dunlap. “If we're down there clicking, getting points and getting boards, it's hard for people to control the inside and control the outside.”
With the Wildcats' inside game rolling, the outside opened up, particularly for Morrow. The sophomore guard from Chattanooga , Tenn. , continued her deadly shooting from behind the arc by scoring three or more treys for the sixth consecutive game.
Morrow ended the game with four daggers from 3-point land, but the biggest came with the game still in doubt. Hanging on to a 50-48 lead with just under five minutes to go, Morrow went on a personal 5-0 run, including a 3-pointer, to give UK control of the game.
The Tide tried to rally late in the game, but UK sunk its free throws and Dunlap grabbed some key rebounds down the stretch to finish off Alabama .
“(Dunlap) absolutely got some rebounds down the stretch that we were able to finish some possessions down the stretch when we needed it in the worst way,” Mitchell said.
The Tide's ability to crash the offensive boards kept them close for most of the game – Alabama pulled down 19 offensive rebounds – but the Wildcats tightened late in the game thanks a to a halftime talk from their coach.
“That was one of the goals to make sure we sat on the boards and make sure they weren't getting as many offensive boards as they got (in the first half),” Dunlap said. “Coach told us to make sure we boxed out and make sure they wouldn't get as many boards as they had.”
UK will return home Sunday when it plays host to Mississippi State . Tip-off in Memorial Coliseum is slate for 4 p.m. EST and the game will be carried live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio and television).