UK Hoops advances in SEC tourney with 60-58 win over Tigers (with VIDEO)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — If UK’s halftime statistics against Louisiana State had trended into the second half, it would have resulted in one of the worst performances from either team this season.

Fortunately for both, that didn’t happen. Unfortunately for LSU, UK senior Victoria Dunlap did happen.

Dunlap led UK (23-7) to a 60-58 win over LSU (19-13) Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference women’s basketball tournament.

After being benched with two fouls for over 10 minutes in the first half, Dunlap fired out of the gates in the second, scoring seemingly at will. She finished with a game-high 21 points, 13 of which were scored after halftime.

“I don’t think I’ve ever scored in that kind of way before,” Dunlap said. “I was shooting a lot of jump shots, coming off ball screens. It was a different kind of mentality I had, but I felt really good doing it.”

The first half wasn’t great for either team, but UK trailed by four at the buzzer because of poor free throw shooting (30 percent) from the Tigers. The Cats shot 28.6 percent from the field, while LSU loomed near the same number for much of the first half.

UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said he called on his upperclassman leader Dunlap at halftime.

“I told Victoria, ‘We’re going back to Lexington if we don’t win today.’ And I don’t think she didn’t want to go back to Lexington.”

Dunlap wasn’t the only player in early foul trouble though. UK tallied 13 team fouls in the first half alone, something Mitchell “can’t explain.”

“We were putting a big emphasis on full-court pressure,” Mitchell said. “If you’re not sharp and mentally focused on your fundamentals, and you stand up just a little bit on a good team like LSU, you’re going to get those body block calls (called against you’re team).”

Thought the game saw three lead changes in the latter portion, it was Dunlap making a play to find sophomore A’dia Mathies for an open lay-up and called foul, which she made. With 40 seconds left on the clock to put the Cats up for the final time, it was all UK needed to do to win.

“I was definitely about to shoot it, some crazy shot because I knew the shot clock was running down,” Dunlap said. “But I saw A’dia on the cut backdoor and she finished.”

Despite a 12-foot jump shot attempt by senior Katherine Graham with three ticks remaining on the clock that fell short, UK escaped by two.

The Cats will advance to the semifinals to face the winner of the game between Mississippi State (14-16) and Vanderbilt (19-10), which will be played Friday night. UK went 3-0 against these teams in the regular season, beating Vanderbilt twice. The matchup will take place Saturday at 5:30 CT.


Matthew Mitchell, Victoria Dunlap & A’dia Mathies opening comments (with an awkward 10-second shot of Dunlap)

Matthew MItchell (Pt. I)

Matthew MItchell (Pt. II)

Victoria Dunlap & A’dia Mathies