Kentucky women

Posted by admin | Kentucky women | | Tuesday 20 March 2012 1:29 pm

Kentucky women hold off McNeese State 68-62 in NCAA opener.

Kentucky’s star was off.But the Cats showed they are much, much more than A’dia Mathies.They had just enough of everyone else to get past a gritty McNeese State team 68-62 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.”Any night anybody can step up,” Mathies said after the win at Hilton Coliseum. “You never know who it’s going to be. You can’t just expect to shut down one player and have the whole team fold.”Nobody really shined; we all did it collectively,” said Mathies, who picked up two fouls in the first two minutes and finished with just six points.Kentucky (26-6), which earned a No. 2 seed in the tournament for the first time since 1982, had others pick up the slack.Senior Keyla Snowden came off the bench and scored all of her team-high 11 points in the second half. Azia Bishop added 10 points, three rebounds and three blocked shots.

A collection of Cats contributed, including Bria Goss, Amber Smith, Samarie Walker and Samanatha Drake each pitching in eight points. Kastine Evans added seven points.

“It was a tough situation to be in and other people just stepped up,” said Smith, the point guard, who had seven rebounds and four assists in the win. “Kastine stepped up; Keyla stepped up; other people stepped up.”It was UK’s post trio of Bishop, Drake and Walker that did the most damage. Together, they helped the Cats outrebound the Cowgirls 58-40.The 58 boards, including 36 on the defensive end, was the most for UK this season.Walker had 13 rebounds and Drake had a game-high four blocks.”Our post players actually looked like high-level players today,” Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It’s been a while since that happened.”UK grabbed a double-digit lead early in the second half. But with nine minutes to go, McNeese State (26-8) scored seven unanswered to cut UK’s lead to 46-42.

“That was just too close for comfort,” Smith said. “Coach said in the huddle, ‘We’ve got this. Let’s get after them for four minutes.’ We just settled down and sat down and guarded them.”That was as close as it would get.

UK responded with an 11-3 run to put it out of reach. The Cowgirls hung around, but never got the late surge they needed.”We don’t play a whole lot of folks and I thought fatigue set in,” Cowgirls Coach Brooks Donald-Williams said. “Our lack of depth hurt us. … When they made their runs, I felt like we were really fatigued and when we gathered ourselves, we went right back at them.”Kentucky’s depth was the advantage, outscoring the McNeese State bench 31-8.Despite having Mathies and UK’s next two leading scorers, Goss and Snowden, combine for three points in the first half, the Cats led McNeese State 31-28 at the break.”In the first half, our three leading scorers have no field goals,” Mitchell said. “That’s a difficult, difficult scenario for us to blow the doors off somebody. I just don’t think that was going to happen today with the way McNeese played.”

The Cowgirls were led by Caitlyn Baggett’s game-high 22 points. Martika Hull added 20 points, 13 rebounds and six steals.”I thought we did a great job of attacking and taking advantage of their pressure up top,” said Donald-Williams, whose team didn’t buckle under UK’s pressure, turning the ball over just 13 times (a new low for a UK opponent this season). “They challenge everything you do and I thought we really handled it well.”

Kentucky had its challenges, too, and handled those well.That’s what Mitchell said he’s going to remember, not that Mathies struggled or that UK’s press wasn’t as effective as it usually is.Snowden agreed. UK was happy to survive and advance.”No matter if we won by one point — or a half of a point if we could — we just needed to get to that next game,” she said. “And that’s what we did.”

UK women

Posted by admin | UK women | | Tuesday 20 March 2012 1:24 pm

Keyla Snowden’s late basket saves UK women against Green Bay.

Each point, each possession was painful.Kentucky seemed to have complete control and then chaos ensued in the form of turnover after turnover.Green Bay forced the second-seeded Cats into a season-high 34 miscues and came back from 17 points down to take the lead in the final two minutes.But then senior guard Keyla Snowden found a small crack of light in the smothering Phoenix zone and managed to hit the go-ahead jumper with 16 seconds to play at Hilton Coliseum.The ball bounced on every part of the rim.”I was praying,” Snowden said when asked what went through her mind.Her shot and then two subsequent free throws lifted the second-seeded Cats over Green Bay 65-62 and propelled them to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.On Sunday, the Cats will face No. 11 seed Gonzaga, which upset No. 3 seed Miami.Sophomore forward Samarie Walker scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Cats (27-6). Snowden had 13 points and A’dia Mathies 10, all in the first half. Kastine Evans also added 10 points in the win.An emotional Matthew Mitchell said afterward there was no way to draw up the big play to win the game.”We just had to let the players make plays,” he said. “I just kept believing and telling them to believe in each other.”He didn’t have a chance to draw anything up since Kentucky used its final timeout with five minutes left in the game.The second half was a stark contrast to the first half, when UK had a seemingly comfortable 17-point lead against Green Bay.But the Phoenix rose up and used a 13-2 run early to cut the Cats’ lead to five points midway through the second half.”We got them to speed up and play fast the way they did it to us in the first half,” said Green Bay’s Sarah Eichler, who had 16 points.Senior Julie Wojta added 16 points and eight rebounds. She had 10 steals, all in the second half for the Phoenix (31-2), who saw their 11-game win streak snapped.UK answered the runs several times before the Phoenix finally got the lead, their first of the game, on Megan Lukan’s made free throw with 1:56 to go.

“It felt like we had all the momentum going our way,” Wojta said later.

But Kentucky was able to get some of that momentum back, taking several big charges in the waning minutes.

“We made some plays,” Mathies said. “Our defense made some plays. We got defensive stops. We won with defense.”

Green Bay (31-2) nearly won with its defense, which had Kentucky matching its season high of 27 turnovers by midway through the second half.

The Cats threw the first punch to start the game, using a 16-2 run to grab a 21-6 advantage early in the half. Five players scored in that spree and UK’s defense forced the Phoenix to miss eight straight shots.They didn’t get to double digits until just more than 10 minutes into the half on Hannah Quilling’s made free throws.UK’s speed and athleticism caused problems for the Phoenix, who shot 26.7 percent in the first half to 55.6 percent for the Cats.”That was a beautiful half of basketball,” Mitchell said.It was followed by an ugly half of basketball, which included two of the nation’s top defensive teams forcing each other into a combined 58 turnovers.”Before the game, we talked about trust,” Mitchell said afterward. “To trust in their ability, their preparation, their instincts. … They wanted to win and they did it.”

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