UK Hoops wins tournament, Dunlap concussed


Junior forward Victory Dunlap goes up for a layup during the first half of the game at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday. Photo by Zach Brake

Thanksgiving break is supposed to be a time of relaxation, but the UK women’s hoops team spent its break winning basketball games.

UK won the two-game Lady Eagle Thanksgiving Classic in Hattiesburg, Miss., despite only having its star player in action for 10 of the 80 possible minutes over the weekend. The victory was UK’s 28th straight regular-season tournament championship.

All-American forward Victoria Dunlap went down near the end of the first half in the opening game. She was diagnosed with a mild concussion and sat out the championship game.

The No. 9 Cats (5-0) needed someone to step up the scoring that was lost when Dunlap went out, and sophomore guard A’dia Mathies did it in a big way. Mathies averaged 20 points during the tournament, which was enough to garner her the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

UK played Murray State (2-4) in the opening game Nov. 26 and despite losing Dunlap, who is one of the Cats’ top rebounders, the team out-rebounded the Racers 53-36. UK exploded to a 91-59 win.

In the championship game Nov. 27, the Cats played tournament host Southern Mississippi (3-2). The Cats got out to a slow start and only held a five-point halftime lead. But the Cats typically force turnovers, and the Golden Eagles were not immune. The Cats’ suffocating defense forced 33 turnovers, and UK was able to cruise to a 79-60 win.

Dunlap’s injury shouldn’t force her to miss any more games — a good sign for the Cats, whose next game is against Louisville on Dec. 5.