Mathies paces Cats past Ole Miss to extend win streak [ SLIDESHOW ]


Freshman A’dia Mathies driving to the goal in the first half of UK’s game against Ole Miss last Thursday. Photo by William Baldon

The No.18 Cats (19-3, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) extended their record SEC win streak to six games after defeating the Mississippi Lady Rebels (14-8, 5-4 SEC) 80-66 on Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum.

Guard A’dia Mathies, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, took the first step in trying to retain the honor after leading UK in scoring with a career-high 21 points and tying for the team-high in rebounds with seven.“I said this week that A’dia is the definition of a difference maker,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “She has made a tremendous impact on our team and I think tonight is an indication of what she’s capable of and I thought she was capable of night like tonight for a long time.” Mitchell attributed Mathies’ career night to the extra hours she has been logging after the final whistle in practice sounds.“A lot of my shots were just falling,” said Mathies. “I was making some good plays, and I think I really helped (the team) out tonight.”The team’s leading scorer and junior forward Victoria Dunlap also sang the praises of her freshman teammate, who has alleviated some of the pressure on Dunlap thanks to her scoring during performances like tonight.“She’s really come a long way from being a freshman,” Dunlap said. “Her intensity and her ability to make plays is awesome for this team.”Mathies made plays on the defensive side of the ball, too. She was charged with the task of defending Ole Miss senior guard and the SEC’s leading scorer, Bianca Thomas.Thomas, who came into the game averaging 21.1 points per game ran into difficulties with UK’s in-your-face defense and struggled to 17 points on 4-19 shooting.Ole Miss head coach Renee Ladner wasn’t disappointed in Thomas’ second half performance considering the amount of defensive attention she commanded, but Thomas said that she thought her veteran-laden team, including three starting seniors, would’ve been able to handle UK’s defensive scheme better.The win kept the Cats undefeated at home this season. Unlike UK’s previous two games, both on the road, the decisive stretch of play came well before the final five minutes.Mitchell said he “thought there was a really good stretch in the second half where (UK) put the game away and got some turnovers.”Timely 3-pointers by sophomore guard Rebecca Gray and Mathies’ intensity quashed any chance of an Ole Miss comeback.The game was uncharacteristic for a UK-Ole Miss matchup as the previous eight games between the schools had been decided by nine points or fewer. The Lady Rebels’ never trimmed the lead to fewer than 12 in the second half after trailing by 13 at halftime.“I think (Mathies) continues to get better,” Mitchell said. “I think she can be one of the best players in the league and tonight you saw her capabilities.”