LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky women’s basketball team rallied from an eight-point second half deficit to defeat Cincinnati Monday night 58-55 in front of 3,715 fans in Memorial Coliseum. It marked the program’s 300th win in the “house that Rupp built.” Sophomore forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) led the Wildcats with 22 points and six rebounds while senior center Eleia Roddy (Columbus, Ohio) followed with 14 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.) added nine points, hitting a team-high three three-pointers.
“That was a big win for us tonight,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “I was a bit concerned about our team’s mindset coming into this game. We did not play well Saturday and we only had one day to make adjustments, mainly our attitudes. We got off to a rocky start tonight and it is a real testament to our players to have the ability to change their attitude and their way of thinking and to accept our coaching and adjustments at halftime.”
The Wildcats (1-1) trailed the entire first half after Cincinnati (1-1) used a 6-0 run to start the game. The Bearcats extended their lead to as many as 12 points (34-17) thanks to an impressive showing by redshirt junior Kahla Roudebush’s 19 first-half points. The Cats clawed back to within three (28-25) with 1:42 to go after their full-court press caused four UC turnovers. However, five consecutive points by Roudebush pushed UC’s lead back to eight (33-25) at the half.
“The press had been good to us,” Mitchell said. “We pressed 17 times in the first half and they only scored three times, but I felt that we couldn’t find Roudebush in the press. I knew that Victoria was who we had to put on her because she (Victoria) is so athletic and can play in a stance more consistently than anyone else on the team. She can really bother a shooter. After we made that adjustment, Roudebush scored five points the rest of the game and that was a key in us winning tonight.”
With UK down 38-30 at the 17:33 mark, Dunlap scored six of the next eight points, including hitting one of two career-high three-pointers in the game. She also recorded a rebound and a steal in tying the game at 38 each with 15:07 left. Three UC leads and three ties later, Dunlap grabbed one of her four offensive rebounds in the second half and laid it in to give UK its first lead of the game (45-44) with 10:40 to go. The next three minutes went back and forth as Cincinnati rallied to go ahead by three on a layup by Jill Stephens. But Dunlap and Roddy responded, grabbing back-to-back offensive rebounds and hitting layups to push UK’s lead back to 51-50 with 6:41 left. Dunlap netted her second three-pointer a possession later to give the Cats their largest lead of the game at four (54-50).
“We made some adjustments at halftime and they came out and played a fantastic first four minutes. That was the key to the game to be able to take away their eight-point halftime advantage,” Mitchell said. “I was also proud of Victoria, because she is not naturally comfortable being a go-to player, but she has performed marvelously thus far. She can make those shots. I have seen her make those shots. I just felt like it was a matter of time before one went down and that it would take the lid off.”
Cincinnati wouldn’t go away, however, capitalizing on an old-fashioned three-point play to pull within one, 54-54, with 5:44 left. Morrow responded by hitting a three-pointer in the corner before both teams stalled offensively. Neither team scored again for over four minutes before Roudebush hit a layup with 1:18 to go. With the Bearcats trailing 57-55, Roddy missed a free throw attempt and Roudebush grabbed the defensive rebound with just :18 seconds on the clock. UC took a timeout to draw up a play but sophomore Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.) came up with a key steal on the inbound pass to help the Cats seal the 58-55 victory.
“I am always proud to be the coach of Kentucky and I am awfully proud of our team tonight for winning this game,” Mitchell said.
UK won the rebounding battle for the second straight game (40-27) and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds. The Cats forced 16 turnovers and committed only nine. It marked the first time since UK had single-digit turnovers since seven miscues vs. Ball State on March 19, 2007.
Roudenbush finished with 29 points of UC’s 55 points. The Cats shot just 32.8 percent (21-of-64) compared to Cincinnati’s 42.0 percent.
UK is now 18-6 all-time vs. UC, including a perfect 13-0 when playing in Lexington.
The Wildcats return to Memorial Coliseum Sunday, Nov. 23 to take on George Washington at 2 p.m. ET. The Colonials of Washington, D.C., aren’t ranked but are receiving votes in both national polls.