UK women start season with 90-50 rout of Delaware State

jsmith3@herald-leader.comNovember 10, 2012 

The first course was fun, but it was merely an appetizer for Kentucky.

Just three days before the No. 6 Cats' main course — a shot at top-ranked, defending national champion Baylor on national television — they quickly devoured Delaware State 90-50.

In front of 4,637 for the season opener at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, Kentucky won its 21st straight game at home. The Cats left little doubt in the outcome early, grabbing a 20-4 lead to start and expanding it to as many as 48 points from there.

Kentucky did what it could to cause more than a little bit of indigestion for the Hornets and first-year coach Tamika Louis.

"The thing that I liked was the speed that Delaware State had to play with today," UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "They were pretty uncomfortable it looked like to me."

That wasn't just how it looked to Mitchell.

Louis saw the same thing, in the form of 32 turnovers, which UK converted into 50 points in the rout.

"It is as intense on film as it is in person," Louis said of the UK defense. "I think Coach Mitchell does a great job of instilling pride of 'This is how we play and we're going to force teams to make good decisions and they're going to have to get out of our organized chaotic defense.' They are just as good or even better in person as they are on film."

It's a film that Baylor will be paying special attention to as the Bears prepare for Tuesday's State Farm Tip-off Classic against the Cats. Baylor's 41-game win streak will be on the line.

Senior guard A'dia Mathies, who had a team-high 16 points, six assists, four steals and four rebounds for the Cats (1-0), hopes Baylor sees a team that stayed true to its identity, especially early.

"We just tried to play Kentucky basketball," she said. "We gave 40 minutes of our best effort."

Mathies was one of three players in double figures and all 13 players UK played scored. Sophomore Bria Goss added 14 points.

California transfer DeNesha Stallworth had 11 points and three assists. Samarie Walker added eight points and seven rebounds.

Junior guard Maegan Conwright, who sat out the exhibition win with a sprained ankle, scored seven points and three steals. She was still hobbled at times, but will have to play through pain until it fully heals, Mitchell said.

Conwright didn't look like she was hurting much when she completed a stunning, behind-the-back pass to Jennifer O'Neill to give UK a 39-11 lead.

In UK's big 20-4 spree to open the season opener, seven different players scored.

Depth and versatility was key. The Cats' bench outscored the Hornets' 34-2, including a bench-best eight points for Azia Bishop and Bernisha Pinkett.

"Our bench coming in and knocking down the shots keeps us going," Stallworth said.

Bishop also added eight points, nine rebounds and three of UK's six blocked shots. Kentucky had more offensive rebounds (34) than its opponent had total rebounds (29).

Delaware State (0-1), which went 7-23 last season, was paced by Tierra Hawkins' 26 points.

During the course of this first course, there were plenty of things UK will have to correct quickly, though.

Mitchell was displeased with UK's 23 turnovers and sloppy play at times. But the coach found more to be pleased with than displeased, especially for a season opener.

"It's going to be ugly at times and there will be a lot of mistakes made here early in the season, but I am very optimistic about what we can become."

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

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