Elliott’s 16 points, Ormerod’s return fuel UK win

With two teams donned in pink headbands, wristbands and warm-up uniforms as a part of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s “Think Pink” initiative to raise breast cancer awareness, the UK women’s basketball team rolled Alabama 64-44 yesterday.

Despite 21 turnovers and a sloppy first half, the Cats (13-12, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) outscored the Crimson Tide (8-10, 1-10 SEC) 39-23 during the second half at Memorial Coliseum in front of 4,879 fans, many of whom were clad in pink clothing.

“We were turning the ball over far too much,” head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “(Alabama) worked very hard to put pressure on us. They forced you into making some difficult plays. The first half we weren’t making a lot of them. The second half we did. That was a big difference.”

With 3:57 remaining in the first half, senior center Sarah Elliott tied the game at 21 with a foul shot. Junior guard Carly Ormerod, making her first appearance since the Dec. 20 game against Louisville, gave UK the lead for good with a free throw on the following possession.

“I think we played a little panicky at the very beginning of the game,” Elliott said. “We hurried a lot of things and had a lot of turnovers. We just tried to hurry too much. Coach brought us back and said, ‘Calm down, we can do this,’ and, ‘Go out there and play our game.’ ”

Sophomore guard Lydia Watkins’ layup with a little over 11 minutes remaining in the second half capped a 26-7 run, all but burying the Tide for the their 10th consecutive loss.

Elliott led UK with 12 points in the first half and finished with a game-high 16 points. The senior’s pair of free throws with 7:16 left in the game moved her into sole possession of 10th on UK’s all-time leading scorers’ list with 1,435 career points. The free throws gave UK a 58-27 advantage.

Ormerod, who has missed nearly two months with sesamoiditis and turf toe, was a huge return for a team riddled with injuries. The Cats recently lost freshman guard Amber Smith for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Totaling eight points, two assists and two rebounds, Ormerod said she was excited just to get back on the hardwood.

“I had a lot of close-to-playing times where maybe I was just a day away and then it came back,” Ormerod said. “I was just excited to be back out there without pain. I just wanted to get back out there for my team.”

The Cats’ seventh conference win gives UK its most wins in the SEC since the 2005-06 season. The Cats are also guaranteed a minimum .500 record in the SEC.