Three point shooting leads Cats to win over UNH and 3-0 start


Forward Evelyn Akhator (13) shoots a layup during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners on Monday, March 21, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

By Chris Leach

The first two victories of the season for the No. 15 UK women’s basketball team can be credited to an aggressive zone defense that did a great job of slowing down the opponents’ offense.

While the zone defense was as aggressive as ever in Thursday’s game against New Hampshire, the Cats used an explosive offense and hot shooting to take down UNH 92-43.

The Cats shot 52 percent from the court in Thursday’s matchup, including 48 percent beyond the three-point line. This was the first time all season that the Cats shot above 50 percent from the floor, and over 40 percent from three-point territory.

Before Thursday’s game, head coach Matthew Mitchell emphasized how good of a three-point shooting team the Cats could be this year. Today’s performance proved that opposing defenses better be careful leaving the Cats open; otherwise the Cats could make them pay.

“The sky is the limit if we keep putting the work in, we have a lot of three-point threats,” guard Makenzie Cann said.

Cann was the one who got the hot shooting started for the Cats, making three of her first four three-point shots before halftime. Cann did not cool off during the break, as she would hit three more threes in the second half to help her reach a new UK career high of 20 points.

Cann was not the only one who provided valuable minutes off the bench for the Cats. Jessica Hardin scored 11 points off 4-7 shooting, hitting three threes, in just 18 minutes.

“(Cann and Hardin) are both very good shooters and it helps our team,” head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “They’re really important to us, both of those kids.”

Evelyn Akhator, who has been a double-double machine this young season, would get another in Thursday’s game with 17 points and 11 rebounds, her 16th career double-double.

At halftime, the Cats held a 24-point lead, and would unleash an offensive showcase in the third quarter to open up a 45-point lead at the end of the quarter. The Cats outscored UNH 30-9 in the third quarter.

Even with the Cats stroking it from deep, the post players did a good job of contributing as well.

The Cats scored 38 points in the paint, and out-rebounded UNH 39-35. UNH is known as a good rebounding team so out-rebounding UNH today was a good sign that if the Cats ever struggle to knock down jump shots, they can still find ways to score around the basket.

For the first time this season, the Cats will be on the road, traveling to Colorado to take on the Buffalos on Saturday.

“It’ll be a great trip for us, really looking forward to traveling with this team,” Mitchell said.