Cats stun Hogs on Mathies lay-up with four seconds



On a night that began with one Cat nervously singing the National Anthem ended with all the Cats and 6,670 boisterous fans belting out the fight song in glee of a 55-54 win.

But with just minutes left in the game, that didn’t appear to be the case.

With just 69 seconds remaining in UK’s senior forward Victoria Dunlap career at Memorial Coliseum, UK was down five.

That’s when Dunlap took over, something she’s done a number of times in her UK career. She tipped the ball in to cut the lead to three and made two free throws with 24 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to one.

As Arkansas (18-9, 6-9 Southeastern Conference) attempted to run out the clock and play keep away, Dunlap trapped Arkansas’ Lynday Harris, who stepped on the out of bounds line, giving UK one final possession.

But it was out of the senior’s hands, sophomore guard A’dia Mathies would decide UK’s fate. Despite only shooting 3-for-10 in the second half, Mitchell said he wanted the ball in her hands.

Mathies dipped past a defender at the top of the key, came off a screen and sped by another, then put up a layup that sent the seniors out winners.

“They set two high ball screens so I could get off the dribble, (Arkansas’ center Sarah Watkins) stepped up and I was able to take off the dribble and get to the basket and I just threw the ball in,” Mathies said.

Arkansas was stunned as potential UK tears turned into cheers.

“She made a play and she’s good at it, she’s as good as anybody they have,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. “You have to defend her from the outside, she’s explosive, has great balance but I’m not sure what we could have done differently.”

Mathies finished with 17 points.

Pandemonium set in after the Cats took the lead with 4.1 seconds remaining, but that was enough time for Arkansas to advance the ball nearly the length of the court, allowing Razorback guard C’eira Ricketts to get a clean look from 25 feet out. Her shot harmlessly hit the backboard and the celebration was on for the Cats.

“What a heart stopping, thrilling win, (Dunlap) always had a flare for dramatic,” Mitchell said.

But after the game’s start, it didn’t seem like UK would have a nerve wrecking game. Arkansas had more turnovers (15) than field goals (9) in the first half and was down by as many as 15.

The Razorbacks used an 8-0 to end the half to cut the lead to seven, then Arkansas quickly went on 13-0 run in the second half to seize the lead.

During spurts in the second half Arkansas showed life of the team that soundly beat the Cats in Fayetteville on Jan.6. In large part because of Ricketts, who had 19 points against UK in the first meeting.

UK’s game plan was to slow her down but the Kentucky native had 10 points in the second half.

Arkansas also limited its turnovers after halftime but fell apart in the last minute, committing four that led to four UK points.

“That’s what we do the best, that’s what was going to get it done, our defense,” Dunlap said. “We just had to be aggressive to win.”

While Dunlap only had 12 points, she found a way to make a difference on the defensive end with four steals.

Dunlap also awed the crowd before the opening tip. In the first time in her career she sang the National Anthem, which sparked a long-standing ovation.

“I thought I did okay, a couple parts were a little shaky, I was really nervous if you couldn’t tell,” Dunlap described. “I was literally shaking and I thought I was going to throw up.”

After the game it’s UK hoop’s tradition to sing the fight song. Dunlap said she was a lot more comfortable singing that.

“The fight song was way better (than the National Anthem),” Dunlap laughed, “I was confident with that one.”