UK women notes: Smith's acrobatics ignite other Cats

jsmith3@herald-leader.comMarch 25, 2012 

  • Women's SEC Tournament

    Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt/Missouri winner
    When: 6 p.m. Friday
    TV/Radio: SportsSouth/WLAP-AM 630

KINGSTON, R.I. — A small cut above Amber Smith's left eye was a reminder of some big hustle plays that helped give Kentucky a lift to the Elite Eight on Sunday night.

The senior point guard, who has had multiple knee surgeries and other ailments, went head first over two rows of photographers in the first half.

She followed up that circus stunt in the second half by going over press row head first for a loose ball. That's how she got the cut.

"It gave us a boost," she said of her acrobatics, the final one which nearly took out Kentucky radio announcer Neil Price. "I don't hesitate. I don't really think it through, sometimes."

But Smith, who finished with three points and three assists, was happy to take a cut for the team.

"It's my last year," she said. "If I don't do everything I can to win the game, then there's something wrong."

Junior A'dia Mathies said seeing Smith make those plays made everyone want to play harder.

"To see our seniors going down on the floor, grabbing rebounds, jumping over seats, that's what we expect," Mathies said. "Our main thing is defense and to see her hustling like that gives us all extra energy to play even harder."

Goss ends 0-for-14 skid

Freshman forward Bria Goss was beginning to wonder if she was going to hit another three-pointer again this season. After making 31 this season, she had gone seven straight games (and 14 straight tries) without hitting from long range.

Goss, who finished with 10 points, including hitting two three-pointers, was excited when the first one fell from the corner early in the first half.

"I was really excited," she said. "Coach told me if I had that first three (open) in the corner then I had to make it and then I did."

Basketball state

When the Kentucky men knocked off Baylor on Sunday afternoon, it meant that UK is the only school with both its men's and women's teams still left in the NCAA Tournament.

Chalk talk?

Three times in women's tournament history, only the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds advanced to the Elite Eight.

It happened again on Sunday night for the first time since 2003.

"That tends to be how it works in women's basketball," Gonzaga Coach Kelly Graves said. "I just don't think you see many different faces."

He said it's changing with teams like his team, but it's not always a perfect science. The final eight teams left will make for some fun games, though, Graves said.

"Ones and twos should make for a great Elite Eight and obviously a tremendous Final Four," he said.

If the No. 1 seeds were to all advance to Denver, though, it would be the first time in NCAA Tournament history that that has happened.

Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said he's just glad his team is one of the ones still standing.

"It's some good teams left playing and we're one of those," he said. "We tried to get our players to fight hard all year to get the best seed we could. I'm proud they put themselves in a position to advance."

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com, ukwomen.bloginky.com

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