MOREHEAD, Ky. – The Morehead State women’s basketball team went toe-to-toe with visiting 15th-ranked Kentucky in both teams’ season opener Friday night, but after holding a one-point lead at the break, the Eagles saw UK use a 21-6 run and a 19-1 run to pull away for a 96-60 victory in front an MSU women’s basketball school-record 3,870 fans in Johnson Arena.
The Eagles led 32-31 at the half, but Kentucky forced 18 second half turnovers and turned that into a 65-28 scoring advantage in the final 20 minutes. The Wildcats, coached by former MSU bench boss Matthew Mitchell, also shot 62 percent in the final period.
MSU junior forward Ashar Harris, who ranked third in the nation in rebounding last year, started the 2011-12 season by tallying her fourth career 20-rebound game, pulling in nine offensive and 11 defensive rebounds. Senior guard Courtney Lumpkin led the Eagles with 12 points.
UK sophomore guard Kastine Evans came off the bench to lead all scorers with 23 points. A’dia Mathies tossed in 16 markers, and Keyla Snowden notched 15 points. Samantha Drake had 10 of the ‘Cats 49 rebounds as they out-boarded the Eagles 49-38.
Turnovers marred the stat sheet as both teams utilized a full-court pressure defensive-style. The Eagles made 30 floor mistakes but forced the Wildcats into 27 turnovers. MSU sophomore Tyler Ituen led all players with four steals.
The Eagles erased an early 12-6 Wildcat lead with a 9-0 run, capped by a jumper from freshman Natalie Greenwell, to lead 15-12 at the 9:18 mark. The Eagles only relinquished the lead in the first half once more before taking a 32-28 advantage with 26 seconds left. Mathies canned a free throw and a jumper in the lane at the buzzer to set the halftime score at 32-31.
Kentucky opened the second half on the 21-6 run as the visitors pushed ahead 52-38 with 12:47 remaining. A layup by MSU freshman Almesha Jones trimmed the ‘Cats lead to 10 (56-46) at the 11:31 mark, but UK held the Eagles without a field goal until 6:04 as it ballooned its lead to 28 (75-47).