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UK Hoops Meets Top-Seeded UConn in Elite Eight

KINGSTON, R.I. – No. 12/11 Kentucky women’s basketball looks for its first Final Four berth in school history when it faces top-seeded and third-ranked Connecticut on Tuesday in the Kingston Regional Finals. Game time in the Ryan Center is 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.

Tickets are currently on sale through the Ryan Center Ticket Office at 401-874-7267 or order online through Ticketmaster by clicking here.

Single session adult tickets are $30, while single session student tickets are $20. Ryan Center ticket office hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. ET and Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. ET.

The Wildcats (28-6) earned their second trip to the Elite Eight in the last three years after hot shooting from beyond the arc vs. Gonzaga on Sunday. UK hit 12 3-pointers, most ever by UK in an NCAA Tournament game, including a season-high tying five treys from senior Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.). She led UK with 17 points off the bench, while reserve forward Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) posted her second straight double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Junior All-America candidate A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) and Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year Bria Goss (Indianapolis) followed with 15 and 10 points, respectively. Connecticut native and sophomore guard Kastine Evans (Salem, Conn.) also was a huge factor on the boards as she grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds.

“Outside our locker room there's a picture of the Final Four logo in Denver,” UK Hoops Matthew Mitchell said. “We didn't put an Elite 8 goal on our season we put a Final Four goal and the kids have worked really, really hard to get into this position and so we're not playing all of the Connecticut teams of the past we're playing these players so we're trying to get focused on this team. They're an excellent team, they're very good but we need to go to practice today and have as normal a Kentucky practice as we can and that's my responsibility to make sure that we do the things we've been doing all season long and then at some point your players just need to step up and win a game like this. Players win games, I believe that, and we have some good players and they're going to need to play well tomorrow night and we're going to do everything we can to get them ready to do that."

UK has compiled an outstanding résumé en route to one the most successful seasons in school history. The Wildcats won their first SEC regular season championship since 1982 with a school-record 13-3 mark in league play. Their 28 wins tie the school record set in 2009-10 when the Cats also advanced to the Elite Eight. UK has now won 25-plus games for three consecutive seasons for the first time ever.

Mathies, the SEC Player of the Year as well as first team All-SEC and SEC All-Defensive Team, leads the Wildcats in scoring (15.2 points per game), 3-point field goal percentage (.383) and steals (2.6 steals per game) and ranks second on the team in rebounds (5.1 rebounds per game), 3-point field goals made (51), and assists (2.7 assists per game). She dished out a career-high tying seven assists vs. Gonzaga.

Snowden, the SEC Co-Sixth Woman of the Year, also is having an impressive season, specifically in tournament play. The senior is averaging 13.7 points per game off the bench in the NCAA Tournament, and averages 12.6 points per game in her career in the NCAA Tournament (nine games).

Walker leads Kentucky with 7.3 rebounds per game but is averaging an impressive 12.7 rebounds per game in NCAA Tournament play. The UConn transfer has grabbed at least seven rebounds in 14 of 24 games she has played in this season, including double figures rebounds in five of the last eight.

Connecticut (32-4) enters Tuesday game coming off a 77-59 win over fourth-seeded Penn State. The Huskies were led in the victory by sophomore guard Bria Hartley, who scored a team-high 20 points. Freshman forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, led UConn on the glass with 11 rebounds to go with her 12 points. It was Mosqueda-Lewis’ first double-double of her career. Junior guard Kelly Faris (15), sophomore center Stefanie Dolson (10) and senior guard Tiffany Hayes (10) also reached double figures in scoring.

No. 3/3 UConn has four players who average 10 or more points per game, led by Mosqueda-Lewis’ 14.9 points per game. Hayes follows closely behind with 14.6 points per game on 50.6 percent shooting. Hartley pours in 13.9 points per game and Dolson averages 10.1 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds per game. Hayes (5.7), Faris (5.4) and Mosqueda-Lewis (5.3) also average over five boards per contest. Faris facilitates the Huskies’ office with a team-high 4.3 assists and an assist-turnover ratio of 2.12, the 16th best mark in the country.

The Huskies are in the top-10 nationally in 10 statistical categories, including the top scoring defense, scoring margin and field-goal percentage defense. Connecticut is second in the country in assists per game, third in field goal percentage, and fourth in 3-point field goal defense and assist-turnover ratio.

This marks the fourth meeting between Kentucky and Connecticut. The Wildcats are 1-2 all-time vs. the Huskies. The teams haven’t met since 1999 and this is the first matchup between the teams in the NCAA Tournament. UK is 6-2 vs. ranked teams this season, including a 4-1 mark vs. the top 10.

The game can also can be heard on the UK IMG Sports Radio Network with Neil Price calling the action. Fans can also follow the UK Hoops team on Twitter at @UKHoopCats and use #UKHoops to comment on the game.


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