LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 7/6 Kentucky women’s basketball team concludes its two-game road swing in southern California when it meets UC Santa Barbara on Friday, Dec. 21 at 3 p.m. PST/6 p.m. EST. The Wildcats, who defeated Pepperdine on Tuesday 80-62, are riding an eight-game winning streak which ties the eighth-longest streak in school history and currently is the nation’s seventh longest.
The game can be heard live on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price calling the action. There also will be a free video stream on www.BigWest.org/TV. Fans can follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game.
California native DeNesha Stallworth had an impressive outing in front of her friends and family on Tuesday as she scored a season-high tying 17 points, including 13 in the second half. She also charted two blocks and two steals in the win. Sophomore Bria Goss (Indianapolis) followed with a season-high 16 points and four steals, while senior guard A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) and junior forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) followed with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
The trip has given California natives Brittany Henderson and DeNesha Stallworth the opportunity to play in their home state. Henderson, a senior forward, hails from Pasadena, Calif., while Stallworth, a junior transfer from Cal, is a native of Richmond, Calif. Henderson played her prep career at John Muir High School, while Stallworth played at Pinole Valley. Stallworth went on to play two seasons at California before transferring to Kentucky last season.
“Each year we like to give our players an experience and see a part of the country that they don’t normally see or sometimes people take trips to different locations during Thanksgiving for tournaments,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Our thinking was to give our kids a great experience and also at the same time get Brittany Henderson and DeNesha Stallworth back to California. It’s tough on their family and friends to get to watch them. We are real fortunate that most of our players are pretty close to or at least on the east coast where they can get into Lexington pretty easily. Just to get them out there and give them that experience in playing in front of family and friends is important.”
Overall, UK ranks seventh in the nation in scoring margin, outscoring its opponent by +25.4 points per game. Eight of UK’s nine wins have been by 18 points or more. UK also ranks third nationally in turnover margin (10.6) as the Wildcats are forcing 27.1 turnovers per game, while committing just 16.5.
Mathies, the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and All-America candidate, leads the team in scoring (13.0 ppg), assists (2.5 apg) and 3-pointers made per game (1.7). She currently ranks fourth on UK’s all-time steals list with 272 and is sixth on the all-time scoring list with 1,565 points. Mathies is one of only four players in UK history to accumulate over 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 200 steals in her career.
Dominating the inside game is the dynamic post duo of Stallworth and Walker who average 11.9 and 9.0 points per game, respectively. Walker tops the team in rebounding with 7.6 rpg, while Stallworth averages 5.1 rpg and a team-high 1.7 blocks per game. Goss also averages 9.0 ppg.
UCSB enters Friday’s game with a 4-6 overall record after falling at BYU on Tuesday, 67-39. Prior to that game, the Gauchos were coming off of their first consecutive wins of the season at Loyola Marymount (Dec. 5) and Washington (Dec. 15), respectively.
Overall, senior forward Sweets Underwood leads the Gauchos with 11.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Junior guard Nicole Nesbit follows with 9.5 points per game, while leading the team in steals (1.4).
UK is 2-0 all-time vs. UC Santa Barbara with wins in 2008 (69-58 in Lexington) and 2009 (68-54 in Santa Barbara, Calif.)