UK Hoops opens season with win over Morehead State

By Les Johns

The UK women’s basketball team used the momentum from an 18-2 run early in the second half to defeat the Morehead State Eagles 96-60  in a physical, foul-filled contest.

The Eagles led the Cats at halftime 32-31 with  Morehead State winning the rebounding battle 26-19 at  Johnson Arena in Morehead Friday night.

“We just had too many people standing and not attacking the offensive glass,” said UK head coach Matthew Mitchell. “There was a lot of ball-watching on the defensive end.

“I was disappointed in our effort in the first half.”

The Cats took control early in the second half. After falling behind for the last time 36-34, the Cats went on an 18-2 run to take the lead.

UK outscored the Eagles 65-28 in the final half and out-rebounded them 30-12.  Morehead State had more turnovers (18) than field-goals (8) in the second half.

The physical play led to both teams finding themselves in the double-bonus less than six minutes into the second half.

“Fouling negates hustle,” Mitchell said. “Double bonus — we just can’t have that happen a whole lot early in halves like we did tonight.”

“It was a very physical game,” said MSU head coach Tom Hodges. “The combination of running and consecutive trips down the floor with physical play were the determining factor.”

The Cats were led by a breakout performance from sophomore guard Kastine Evans, who came off the bench to score 23 points.

“I came out with some energy and helped with the tempo and everything else just fell into place after that,” Evans said. “I just gave my all to play Kentucky basketball.”

Eight Cats players shared 20 assists for the game.

“This is a team that has a lot of good ball handlers,” Mitchell said. ”I think we can be a very good assist team.”

Amber Smith made her regular-season return for the Cats, coming off the bench to score seven points and dish four assists in her 14 minutes of action.

“Amber gave us some energy and some veteran leadership,” Mitchell said. “She was a big difference in us winning.”