By Tom Hurley | @TomHurleyKernel
Junior forward Samarie Walker scored a career-high 21 points to lead No. 7 UK hoops (11-1) to its 10th straight win Friday in a 90-23 blowout of Alcorn State at Memorial Coliseum.
Outscoring and outrebounding Alcorn State (0-9) by herself in the first half, Walker was one rebound shy of a double-double at halftime as the Cats led 44-11 at the break.
“They were pretty under-sized in the posts,” Walker said. “It wasn’t that hard for me to score and get rebounds.”
By the time she left the game for good with four minutes to play, Walker had 21 points, 14 boards, five steals and three blocks in 28 minutes of action.
UK head coach Matthew Mitchell saw his squad pressure the Lady Braves into 23 turnovers in the first half alone.
“In the first half I thought Samarie Walker and Bria Goss really set the tone with their effort and hustle,” Mitchell said. “We had a lot of bright spots tonight, obviously… it was a good night for us.”
Alcorn struggled to find open shots all night as the Cats’ pressure defense kept the visitors to 7-35 shooting from the field, turning the ball over 36 times in the process.
The 23 points given up by the Cats are the fewest allowed to an opponent in program history.
“You have to give credit to Kentucky,” said Alcorn head coach Tonya Edwards. “They played a great pressure defense.”
Alcorn’s senior point guard Carolinsia Cumbly was unable to find the space to create good looks for her teammates, resulting in long spells with the visitors only scoring from the free throw line.
After cutting UK’s lead to 5-4 with 15:55 remaining in the first half, the Lady Braves didn’t score its next field goal until almost four minutes into the second half.
The Cats didn’t have the same problems as the visitors when it came to finding open looks on offense.
UK shot 50.8 percent from the field and finished the night with 19 team assists; seven of those belonging to junior center DeNesha Stallworth.
“She’s really talented and can get other people involved,” Mitchell said.
Sophomore guard Bria Goss was the Cats second highest scorer with 18 points, while senior guard A’dia Mathies helped herself to 14 points.
Sophomore guard Jennifer O’Neill added 13 points with Stallworth contributing 10 points and 10 rebounds along with her game-high seven assists.
There was a sour taste left after the victory, however, with Mitchell announcing that Meagan Conwright’s season is over due to an injury sustained in practice on Wednesday.
“Meagan unfortunately tore her ACL and will be out for the season,” he said. “Disappointing news to say the least.”
UK is next in action Sunday when it hosts the Marist Bulldogs.
Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum.