UK Hoops defeats Texas A&M 65-62



By Boyd Hayes | @KernelHayes

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One more game, one more step on the tightrope. Senior guard A’dia Mathies led No. 6 UK Hoops (15-1, 3-0 SEC) to a close 65-62 win over No. 20 Texas A&M on Thursday for a school-record 31st straight home victory.

Meeting the Cats on the court for the first time in school history, the Aggies introduced themselves with a dominant first half, leading 37-31 at halftime.

Frontcourt duo junior Kelsey Bone and senior Kristi Bellock set the tone, combining for 24 points and 11 rebounds in the first half.

Junior center DeNesha Stallworth shared the task of containing Bone and Bellock with junior forward Samarie Walker.

“We just tried to push the ball every possession,” Stallworth said. “Kelsey is a really big girl, so we just knew if she scored a layup, she’d have to run all the way back on defense, so we tried to take advantage of that.”

Capitalizing on Bone’s fatigue, the Cats clawed their way back in the second half, fueled partially by Stallworth’s seven second-half points. It was not Stallworth, however, but Mathies who steered the Cats to victory.

“We knew it wasn’t a 20-minute game, especially at halftime. We knew it was a 40-minute game,” Mathies said. “We eventually got that spark we needed in the second half, and it came up with that big three.”

The senior drilled a 3-pointer with 18 minutes left in the half, pulling the Cats within one point at 40-39, but it was just the first of her big plays in the half.

After swapping scores, the Aggies still led by one point with 16 minutes to play, and Mathies drained from behind the arc to give the Cats a two-point lead.

Texas A&M came back, however, giving themselves a lead of three with nine minutes remaining on the clock.

As the visitors were looking to pull away, Mathies cut across the top of the key and drained another three to tie the game at 53, sparking the Cats’ path to victory.

By the time the final buzzer rang around Memorial Coliseum, the Louisville native had made nine of 20 shots from the field, finishing with 23 points.

“I want (Mathies) to be the person with the most shot attempts every night,” said UK head coach Matthew Mitchell. “She’s really, really hard to guard when she’s shooting the ball the way she is now, and she was huge in the game. (I’m) really proud of her.”

Mathies’ strong form has been a constant so far in SEC play, as she scored 20 against Florida and 17 against Alabama in wins last week.

“I believe the SEC is the greatest conference,” Mathies said. “Every time you go out there and play you can take a loss. There’s no teams that you can say, ‘Oh, we’re going to beat them.’ There’s definitely not those. Everybody’s got to prepare every night and stay focused every day. I think it just goes to show how great of a league this is.”

Sophomore guard Jennifer O’Neill scored 15 points in 31 minutes of action, with Stallworth adding 12 points and six rebounds.

Sophomore guard Bria Goss added 7 points for the Cats, who were led in rebounds by junior forward Samarie Walker who grabbed eleven boards to go along with her three points.

UK is next in action on Jan. 13 when it travels to Colombia, Mo., to take on the Missouri Tigers.