Cats trounce William & Mary behind hot shooting

After the women’s basketball team’s heart-breaking overtime loss on Friday to Western Kentucky, the Cats were looking to recover last night with a big statement against William & Mary.

With the weight of the team evenly distributed on the shoulders of three UK players, the Cats easily defeated the Tribe 75-44 last night in Memorial Coliseum.

Although the Cats (4-4) have struggled with poor shooting performances all season, they came out firing on all cylinders last night. The Cats hit 51.7 percent of their shots from the field and went 10-for-14 from the free-throw line.

“I was very encouraged with the progress we made tonight,” head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We weren’t perfect, but I thought we played with a lot more energy tonight than we have recently, and I think it’s a game we can build on.”

The first half was led by Cats senior guard Samantha Mahoney. In the first 20 minutes, she led UK with 11 points and finished the contest with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting to give the Cats a 33-23 halftime lead.

Once the Cats and the Tribe (3-5)  resumed play in the second half, freshman forward Victoria Dunlap took control of the game and helped push the Cats to a comfortable lead right out of the gate.

Dunlap netted eight of the Cats’ first 12 points in the second half and helped open up a 45-28 UK lead with 14:50 left in the game. Dunlap finished the game with 20 points and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double.

“My goal is to go out there, play hard and see what I can do,” Dunlap said. “If I just so happen to get a double-double, that’s great.”

Seemingly with the snap of a finger, Dunlap’s hot hands were taken off like gloves and slipped snugly on the hands of her teammate Amani Franklin. The sophomore guard hit a jumper while being fouled and converted the old-fashioned 3-point play by sinking her free throw with 14:14 remaining in the contest.

Franklin went on to score eight of the next 10 UK points to expand the Cats’ lead to 21.

“I guess I was in a zone,” said Franklin, who finished with a career-high 18 points. “You have those games sometimes.”

After a 31-point victory that saw his team hit over half of their shots from the field, Mitchell was excited about his team’s performance. However, he immediately began to look forward to the Cats next game and recognized the win’s value as a learning tool for the rest of the season.

“It’s very encouraging,” Mitchell said. “We don’t need to be perfect, but we need to take steps towards correcting mistakes, and we certainly did that tonight.”