LEXINGTON, Ky. – Senior forward Eleia Roddy (Columbus, Ohio) recorded another impressive game as she scored a team-high 21 points to lead Kentucky over Bellarmine 72-69 in exhibition play Sunday in Memorial Coliseum. Sophomores Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) and Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.) followed with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Roddy, who also scored 21 points last week against Kentucky State, netted six crucial points and grabbed three offensive rebounds late in the game for the Wildcats. Kentucky was forced to overcome poor shooting throughout the game to avoid the upset. The Cats, who shot over 48 percent from the field against Kentucky State last week, struggled offensively as they hit just 39.7 percent for the game (29-of-73), including 1-of-15 from beyond the arc and 13-of-28 from the charity stripe.
“Bellarmine was double and triple teaming the post which made it difficult to get inside and that challenged the outside players to make shots,” UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We started missing easy shots and the team was looking for the next person to make a shot. That puts a lot of pressure on all of the players. I was encouraged to see Carly Morrow make a three-point shot at the end. It came when we needed it. We may struggle offensively from time to time and we must find ways to overcome that.”
Bellarmine, a Division II program from Louisville, Ky., took a 60-57 lead with five minutes to play on a layup by Taylor Kopple, who finished with a game-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting. But her former Sacred Heart Academy teammate, Carly Ormerod (Louisville, Ky.), responded with a layup to pull UK within one, 60-59, with under five minutes left. Roddy used her 6-3 height advantage to score six straight points in the paint and grab three offensive rebounds to give Kentucky a 65-60 lead with 3:18 to go.
The Knights pulled back within three (65-62) with three minutes remaining when Morrow nailed the Cats’ only three-pointer of the game with 2:51 on the clock. Bellarmine didn’t go away, however, responding with a three-pointer from Kylie Brady. Roddy sank another jumper at 1:15 on the clock and Morrow hit two free throws with 11 seconds left to help the Wildcats escape defeat.
“Eleia Roddy was one of our bright spots today,” Mitchell said. “For us to be successful, she has to be a major contributor on the offensive end. She played with energy and effort. Carly Ormerod played with energy and effort as well. A lot of people would not be performing at the level Roddy performed at today after so many surgeries (four). That is a real testament to what kind of character she has and that is the kind character we have to have this season to be a successful team. Roddy demonstrated the type of passion we need and the way she is performing after everything she has overcome is remarkable.”
UK trailed at the half, shooting 31.3 percent (10-of-32) from the floor, including 0-of-6 from the three-point line, in falling behind 33-30. Bellarmine hit 45.5 percent (10-of-22) in the opening stanza and outrebounded the Cats 21-20. By the end of the game, UK had won the rebounding battle 45-36 and outscored the Knights 46-30 in points in the paint. The Cats also capitalized on BU’s 29 turnovers, scoring 23 points off the Knights’ miscues.
UK Hoops begins regular season play Saturday, Nov. 15 against Big 10 foe, Michigan, in Memorial Coliseum. The game will tipoff at 2 p.m. ET and be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price. Fans that show their football game ticket for the Wildcats’ matchup with Vanderbilt scheduled for an 8 p.m. ET start at Commonwealth Stadium, will be admitted free to the game in Memorial Coliseum, while supplies last.