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Staff report | @KYKernelSports
No. 2 seed UK Hoops advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday, beating No. 15 seed Navy, 61-41, in Queens, N.Y.
After a slow first half, the Cats (28-5) trailed the Midshipmen (21-12), 26-25. UK shot 10-of-32 (31.3 percent) from the field in the opening 20 minutes of play, while the Midshipmen were 10-of-26 (38.5 percent). Navy added five three-point baskets in the first half to maintain the lead.
Coming out in the second half, UK sophomore guard Jennifer O’Neill scored seven quick points, a steal and an assist to spark a 12-2 run for the Cats. After the run, UK’s lead was never lost as junior center DeNesha Stallworth added nine and seven rebounds in the second half.
O’Neill, a native of New York, finished the game with 12 points, four assists and five steals. Stallworth had 18 points and 11 rebounds on the night, while junior forward Samarie Walker added 14 points and six rebounds for the Cats.
Senior guard A’dia Mathies, the AP SEC Player of the Year, was held without a field goal for the first time in her UK career, scoring five points on 5-of-6 shooting from the free throw line.
For Navy, juniors Alix Membreno and Jade Geif each scored nine points, while none of the Midshipmen scored in double figures.
A win for Navy would have been the first win for a No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history.
The Cats advance to take on No. 7 seed Dayton on Tuesday, March 26, at 7 p.m.