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By Boyd Hayes
Rebounding from a devastating loss at No. 1 Baylor on Tuesday, No. 6 UK Hoops (2-1, 0-0 SEC) won convincingly, 80-46, over High Point (1-2, 0-0 Big South) in Lexington Saturday. The win was UK’s 22nd in a row in Memorial Coliseum.
At the front of the UK charge was senior guard A’dia Mathies, who led the team in scoring with 17 points and also swiped three steals. The 17-point performance puts her two points short of being among the top 10 scorers in UK history.
Mathies went 3-18 from the field against Baylor, but UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said he was pleased that she kept firing. The shooting continued against High Point, but with improved success as Mathies went 7-17 from the field, specifically 3-5 from three-point range.
“A’dia was so fantastic today on the defensive end, and I was absolutely thrilled with her game,” Mitchell said. “I thought she had a great game. She had a huge first half scoring, and in the second half I thought she played a really good game and found some people and made some good passes.”
Mitchell’s team followed Mathies example, shooting very well from the field, as they went 30-60 from the field, shooting 6-13 from behind the three-point line.
Other statistical strong points for the Cats were rebounds and defense. UK out-rebounded High Point 39-33, led by junior forward Samarie Walker’s 12 boards. The Cats also won the turnover battle, causing 32 High Point turnovers and only giving up 20.
“I thought today we had seven or eight that really, really tried hard on defense, and they will see their playing time increase as we move forward,” Mitchell said.
Continuing with deep rotations from the first two games of the season, Mitchell played all 13 available players, 11 of whom found their way into the scoring column. Four UK players scored in double digits: Mathies with 17, and junior guard Bernisha Pinkett, Junior guard Kastine Evans and sophomore center Azia Bishop each tallying 12.
After struggling to find an offensive rhythm in the opening minutes of the game, the Cats and the Panthers were tied up at eight.
Mathies then hit her stride and had UK up 21-10 with 10 minutes left in the half.
Other than an 8-0 run to start the second half, High Point did not recover, and strong second-half performances from Evans (12 second-half points), Pinkett and Bishop helped keep UK on top.
In all, UK had 44 bench points to High Point’s six, as both teams were very physical in diving for many loose balls.
“We had some good contributions from our bench,” Mitchell said. “The 44 points off the bench was great, but their effort was even better.”
High Point’s top performers were juniors Tayler Tremblay and Cheyenne Parker, who had 13 and 14 points, respectively. Parker also pulled down 16 rebounds.
UK plays next on Friday, Nov. 23, against Morehead State in Memorial Coliseum. The game will begin at 4 p.m.