The goal for the Kentucky women's basketball team Saturday wasn't centered around looking pretty. More so, it was about the players reminding themselves how striking they can be when all the collective parts come together properly.
In their first outing since suffering a blowout loss at the hands of top-ranked Baylor on Tuesday, the Wildcats took out their frustrations on an overmatched High Point squad Saturday afternoon in the form of an 80-46 win in Memorial Coliseum.
Falling to the juggernaut Baylor might not have been that stunning an outcome. However, the 34-point margin of defeat stung sixth-ranked Kentucky's early-season ego.
Led by senior A'dia Mathies, who scored all of her game-high 17 points in the first half, Kentucky (2-1) worked out some of the kinks against High Point, shooting 50 percent from the field while forcing the Panthers (1-2) into 32 turnovers.
"After a disappointing defeat Tuesday and only having a couple days' practice time, I thought the team prepared well and performed well," said UK Coach Matthew Mitchell. "There were some moments out there that were frustrating because they're just not moving quite the way we believe they will eventually, but there were some moments out there that looked really good.
"It's just going to be a daily process and trying to figure out who is comfortable where."
Whatever lingering malaise UK had over its Baylor loss had to be shoved aside quickly against a High Point team that scored the game's first bucket two seconds in and trailed by only four with 12:39 left in the opening half.
With Mathies working to get open and simultaneously keying the effort on the defensive end, the Cats established a 23-point halftime edge despite some loose-ball moments and missed layups on their end.
"You have to realize that even though we're ranked in the top 10, it's just the third game of the season and we still have a lot of work to do," said Mathies, who was 7-for-17 from the field and also had three steals. "I think it was great today. We came out with a lot of energy pressing the boards and we had to regard (High Point's) hustle. We did that today and came out with the victory."
High Point flirted briefly with a comeback when it scored the first eight points of the second half, trimming Kentucky's 41-18 lead to 41-26.
The Cats countered with an effort from their bench that would make any coach smile.
With junior guard Bernisha Pinkett scoring seven straight points during one second-half run, UK's bench racked up 44 points against the Panthers — a nice salve to counter the 20 turnovers the Cats let go.
"You never know when your number is to be called, you just have to be ready to do what is needed to get the win," said Pinkett, who joined fellow non-starters Kastine Evans and Azia Bishop with 12 points apiece. "Although we got beat pretty bad (by Baylor) we know it's going to be good when it's all said and done."
Four players ended up in double figures for Kentucky, which has a matchup against Morehead State coming up Friday.
"We did turn the ball over way too much," Mitchell said. "But I think that is them not quite being comfortable with where people are. But again it's the third game of the season and we'll just keep plugging."
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.