UK Hoops wins, Mathies reaches 1,000-point mark



The UK Hoops team overcame a 24-7 Southern Mississippi first-half run and their longest sustained deficit of the season to come away with a 88-71 victory over the Lady Eagles Saturday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum.

The Cats (4-0) started hot, jumping to a 12-0 lead within the first two minutes of play. Southern Miss responded with a 24-7 run of their own over the following 11 minutes, giving them their largest lead of the game at five points.

Southern Miss frustrated UK with a zone defense and a big lineup that often forced the Cats to a single contested shot.

“We played them zone because we felt like that would be the only way, physically, that we could guard them,” Southern Miss head coach Joy Lee-McNelis said.

“We can’t seem to see the openings in the zone,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “The zone offense needs to get better and I think with all these teams playing a zone, we will have plenty of opportunities to do that.”

Southern Miss held the lead for almost eight minutes until the Cats closed out with eight straight to end the first half up 37-33.

“I thought we handled it pretty well and we were able to end the first half strong,” sophomore guard Kastine Evans said, who had 13 points and seven rebounds. “I think we just didn’t let go of that energy in the second half after that.”

The Cats never trailed in the second half, but did have a 16-point lead dwindled down to seven with five minutes left to play.

“There are probably some nerves there that some kids have when it is a tight game,” Mitchell said. “I thought we had some fantastic responses when Southern Mississippi had some momentum.

“We were able to respond and it is a good sign for us.”

The Cats finished strong, outscoring Southern Miss 16-6 in the final five minutes to secure the 17-point victory.

“It was a good win for us and a good game for us,” Mitchell said. “I am really, really, happy with that win.”

The Cats once again had a balanced scoring attack with four players in double digits. They were led by junior guard A’dia Mathies, who scored 20 points and added five rebounds with six steals.

Mathies also became the 29th member of the UK Hoops 1,000 point club, achieving the honor in the fourth-fastest amount of time (74 games).

“I am just very fortunate to have the opportunity to play here,” Mathies said. “I am just really happy about it.”

“She is really playing with a great presence,” Mitchell said. “For us to be really special this year we need her to continue that.”

Senior guard Amber Smith contributed 17 points, six rebounds and four assists. “She (Smith) played her best game today and I don’t know if we could have won if she didn’t play that way,” Mitchell said.

“I am feeling good, and I am just glad we got the win,” Smith said.

Sophomore guard Bernisha Pinkett was suspended for the game because she was late to a team meeting Saturday morning.

“Bernisha Pinket is a really good kid but just made a bad mistake this morning and she has paid for it today,” Mitchell said.

“We are shooting for no suspensions on Wednesday,” Mitchell said. “We are going to try and break the suspension string, if we can, but it is looking tough right now.”

The Cats’ next game is at Memorial Coliseum Wednesday at 4 p.m. against Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (2-1) from The Summit League. The Mavericks were 8-18 last year and are in their first year of Division I competition.