Mathies leads UK women past Arkansas, 84-72

Mathies hits 5 of UK's 11 three-pointers in SEC home opener

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJanuary 6, 2012 

Coaches told A'dia Mathies to shoot the ball more, to be more aggressive.

So she nodded and went to work, scoring 21 points in No. 11 Kentucky's 84-72 win over Arkansas on Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum.

In classic Mathies form, the junior guard said she just tried to do what she was told.

"I was trying to be aggressive because I know when I start getting aggressive, shots open up for other people," said Mathies, who hit a career-best five of Kentucky's 11 three-pointers in the win.

Mathies also added six assists, three rebounds and two steals in the victory, which moved Kentucky to 13-2 overall and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference.

Last time the Cats played the Razorbacks here, Mathies had to hit the game-winning shot in the lane with four seconds to play.

Her play early on indicated she wanted no such drama this time around. Mathies scored 14 of UK's first 23 points, including hitting four three-pointers in the first nine minutes.

"She was much more aggressive and that's what we needed," Mitchell said. "She got us off to a great start."

Kentucky hit its first six three-pointers of the game and grabbed a commanding 15-point lead, 27-12, on Keyla Snowden's 15-footer with 9:32 to go in the first half.

But Arkansas made a late charge at UK, using a 13-4 rally to end the half trailing 40-36.

The Razorbacks grabbed a 56-55 advantage with 12 minutes left in the game before Kentucky got back in it with a 12-2 run, including nine unanswered.

Arkansas Coach Tom Collen said it's tough to hold on against UK's runs.

"They sub so much and they wear you down," he said. "They put one on you and you survive it. They put one on you and you survive it. Then they finally put one on you and you succumb to it."

That last big spree was capped by an Azia Bishop three-pointer to make it 67-58 with eight minutes to play.

It was just Bishop's second trey of the season.

"She drained that and it sucked the life out of us a little bit," Collen said of the freshman forward, who scored 11 points (all in the second half) and had a team-best eight rebounds in only 10 minutes of play.

"She gave us so much energy," Mitchell said of Bishop, who has been relatively quiet offensively since having a big game in UK's win over Duke. "We probably wouldn't have won the game without her."

At the podium, Mitchell pleaded with the freshman to play like that every game.

"When Azia Bishop plays like she played in the second half all the time, we're in for a great treat here," he said.

Fellow freshman Bria Goss added 11 points and five rebounds.

Keyla Snowden added nine points and Kastine Evans and Bernisha Pinkett had eight points apiece in the win, which was the Cats' 13th straight at home. It also put Mitchell one win away from his 100th career victory.

Pinkett had seven rebounds in her 16 minutes of action.

"Big-time game for Bernisha," Mitchell said. "That's the Bernisha Pinkett we all saw have some success last year. I'm real proud of her."

Former Fairdale star C'eira Ricketts had 21 points for Arkansas. Ashley Daniels led all scorers with 22 points and eight boards.

The Razorbacks (11-3, 0-2) would get within four points again late, but the Cats used yet another surge to put the game away for good.

"Finding the toughness to come back out of that lull we were in, I'm really, really pleased," Mitchell said. "That's a great victory for us."

Notes

Kentucky freshman forward Bra'Shey Ali was not on the Kentucky bench for the second straight game. She is serving a suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

■ Kentucky post players Samantha Drake and Samarie Walker combined for seven minutes of play total, but Mitchell said neither is injured.

Specifically, he said Walker, the transfer from Connecticut who played six minutes, needs to get better on defense.

"She was not having a good night defensively," Mitchell said of Walker. "If you can't function in a game defensively, it's hard to get on the floor."

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