UK Hoops top Coker College 86-44 in exhibition game



By Les Johns

UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell might want to bottle Sunday’s half-time speech for use later in the season.

The Cats took advantage of a 29-0 run to start the second half, to rout Division II opponent Coker College 86-44 Sunday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum in the Cats’ only exhibition game of the season.

The run to start the second half was fueled by defensive intensity.  The Cats forced 14 Coker turnovers and allowed just 7 field goal attempts during the 29-0 run over the first nine minutes of the half.

“The big message was to not let our offensive woes —we were missing so many layups— affect us on defense with our energy.” Mitchell said. “We were really going to be disappointed if we didn’t play harder than Coker in the second half.”

The Cats came out of the gate strong, building an early 28-5 lead over Coker. The undersized Coker took advantage of a 28-22 first half rebounding edge to move closer to the Cats. Coker drew within single digits late in the half and trailed 32-21 going in to halftime.

The Cats forced Coker to turn the ball over 40 times and rode the second half spurt to the 42-point win.

UK had a balanced offensive attack, with seven players scoring more than eight points and five in double-figures.

Aside from getting a few more touches for preseason All-SEC guard A’dia Mathies, coach Mitchell  was pleased with the balanced scoring.

“I was happy with the distribution.” Mitchell said. “I think that is the kind of team we will need to be.”

The Cats were led by freshmen Bria Goss, who had 17 points in her first game as a Cat.

“She is tremendously talented and has an unbelievable feel for the game.” Mitchell said. “I’m excited to see her progression this season.”

“It was everything I expected when I first got here,” Goss said about the Memorial atmosphere. “Just to play in this kind of environment is a blessing.”

The Cats’ dominance put a damper on the homecoming appearance for Jenny Pfeiffer Finora, a former Cat who is the all time leader in free-throw percentage and is third all time in 3-point field goals made.

Finora, who is in her second season as head coach for Coker College, was happy to be back in Lexington. “There’s nothing better than Kentucky fans.” Finora said. “It just felt really good to be back.”

Finora believes the Cats are going to be tough to beat this year. “I hope to see them in the Final Four and all the way,” Finora said. “I think they have a lot of talented kids and the sky is the limit for them.”

The Hoops team opens the regular season on the road Friday night against Morehead St.  The home opener is Tuesday Nov. 15 at 11 a.m. against Jacksonville St.