Turnovers, good first half propel UK in 72-60 win


UK guard A’dia Mathies goes for the layup against Bellarmine University at Memorial Coliseum on Monday, Nov. 9, 2009. Photo by Scott Hannigan

The UK women’s basketball team recorded its 65th consecutive game in which it forced double-digit turnovers Despite the lopsided score, the Cats needed each of them to go along with an ambitious first half to knock off the Bulldogs 72-60.

No.19 UK (13-4, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) forced 22 turnovers, 16 of which game in the first half, and shot 48 percent in the second half to avoid being upset by Mississippi State (8-8, 0-4 SEC).

“We were outstanding in the first half with 16 turnovers,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “16 is a lot to force a team into in a half and that doesn’t just happen, a lot of players have to hustle and be in the right spot and not give up.”

The Cats used a 22-0 run and held Mississippi State scoreless for nine minutes and cruised out to a 29-8 lead.

Mitchell credit the Mississippi State’s scoring drought to hustle.

“It was a long time before they scored and our team played really, really hard and you had some players out there really hustling,” Mitchell said.

The Cats 42-point first half is a half that Mitchell will show in the future on how to play a complete half of basketball.

“One of the best first halves, best halves we’ve played and everybody could see we hit a lull in the second half but those are precious wins to come by,” Mitchell said. “SEC wins tough to get and I’m really proud we got this win.”

The way Mississippi State shot in the second half (52 percent, 14-27) had all the makings of a serious comeback but when faced with adversity UK’s most familiar faces showed up yet again.

Senior forward Victoria Dunlap and sophomore guard A’dia Mathies scored 13 of UK’s last 15 points and finished the game with a combined 38 points on 16-22 shooting. Dunlap’s 22-point effort moved her fifth all time on UK’s all time scoring list.

But no basket was bigger in closing out the Bulldogs than Mathies’ three pointer with 2:54 left to push the UK lead back to 14.

“Very good day for A’dia, she helped the team tremendously,” Mitchell said. “The biggest difference in our team is A’dia being able to run some sets in our offense.

“She was vocal in the second half when we were struggling and she showed some leadership.”

After losing three consecutive games, the Cats have won two straight and are back to .500 in the conference. Mitchell says the quality of practice has led to UK’s good play.

“Everybody, coaches, players, staff has done a really fine job of practice this week,” Mitchell said. “Players practiced very hard in preparation and came out really strong today.”