UK Hoops opens season with impressive 92-58 win

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women’s basketball team opened the 2009-10 Division I season with a resounding 92-58 victory over first-time opponent Boston University in Memorial Coliseum Friday morning. All-Southeastern Conference forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) led all scorers and rebounders with 24 points and 12 rebounds for her 14th career double-double.

Along with Dunlap, three other Wildcats scored in double digits. Junior Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.) netted 17 points while setting a new career mark with five makes from beyond the three-point arc. She also tied her career high with four steals and six made field goals. Junior Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) posted 16 points and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Freshman A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) scored 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the charity stripe and also nabbed seven rebounds in her first career start.

“We are thrilled to start the season off with a win and we need to get a bunch of them this year so we are glad to get the first one,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “I thought that our team, while not playing anything close to a perfect game, had a really good effort today. It is a good way to start and we have a long way to go to become a finished project, obviously, but I am happy with this win today.”

Also making her debut was sophomore transfer Rebecca Gray (Georgetown, Ky.), sophomore transfer Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.) and freshman Brittany Henderson (Altadena, Calif.). Gray, a transfer from North Carolina, came off the bench to chart eight points, five rebounds and a team-high three assists. She also added a pair of steals in her first UK game. Sophomore Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.), a transfer from Akron, scored six points and grabbed two rebounds while freshman Brittany Henderson (Altadena, Calif.) scored her first bucket as a Wildcat in the second half. She also snared six rebounds and posted a block in just 16 minutes of action. Senior Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.) added six points in the win and extended her consecutive free-throw streak to 20. That streak currently ranks 10th all-time at UK.

“It all started with Victoria Dunlap and I was pleased to see that,” Mitchell said. “I finally had to get her out of the game because I thought that she was going to hurt herself out there. She was so intense and it was great to see her contribute in all areas. Defensively, she had 13 deflections by herself today. That is a tremendous effort. She was very good and I was so happy for Carly Morrow because she has been struggling mightily in practice for the last 10 days in making shots. We told her to hang in there and keep believing and it was great to see her shoot the ball like that. That kid has worked her tail off since the day that she got to Kentucky. Amber Smith’s performance today was getting back closer to what we need her to do. She made some plays and I thought her and Rebecca Gray both pushed the tempo where we need it to be.”

The Wildcats (1-0) displayed what will be their bread and butter this season, pressure defensive and an up-tempo style of offense. The Wildcats’ tenacious defense forced 29 turnovers and helped them chart an impressive 15 steals, the most since grabbing 16 vs. Texas Pan-American on Jan. 2, 2007. The defense helped push the offense as UK scored 30 points off the Terriers’ 29 turnovers. UK’s 92 points were the most since netting 105 over Tennessee State on Dec. 22, 2005.

“We don’t have a lot of size, but we do have a lot of athleticism so the farther away we can make you start your offense from the basket the better it will be for us,” Mitchell said. “We had the advantage today athletically and we need to make that pay off for us. You can’t do that if you don’t play very hard. This needs to be our style. I don’t think that we can walk the ball up or let the other team walk the ball up, especially if they have really a big-post presence. We need to speed the game up.”

UK pounced on the Terries out of the gate, leading 12-2 after just five minutes of action. Dunlap and Smith helped set the tone, scoring those first dozen points for the Cats. It took Boston over four minutes to get on the scoreboard but after finally finding their offensive groove, the Terriers rattled off 10 straight points to even the score at 12 with 13:47 remaining in the half. They would get no closer, however, as the Wildcats responded with a 10-0 run of their own. UK held at 13-point cushion at the half (41-28) and eventually built its final 34-point lead. The margin of victory was the largest for the Wildcats since an 86-51 win over Memphis on Dec. 30, 2006

The Cats shot 42.3 percent from the field (30-of-71) while holding the Terriers to just 32 percent (17-54), including a 26.1 percent (6-of-23) mark from three-point land. UK also shot well from the free-throw line, connecting on 25-of-29 attempts (86.2 percent).

Boston (0-1) was led by Kristen Sims with 17 points. Caroline Stewart followed with 14.

After a quick turnaround, the Wildcats return to Memorial Coliseum Sunday, Nov. 15, at 1 p.m. EST against Butler. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio and TV) and Fox Sports South.

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