Bishop leads UK women over LSU, 73-60

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJanuary 27, 2013 

  • Women's SEC Tournament

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

After setting a new career high and leading her Kentucky team to a 73-60 win, Azia Bishop confessed this hasn't been her best week of practice.

"That is very accurate," Coach Matthew Mitchell confirmed. "She's been a disaster the last few days."

On Sunday in the win over Louisiana State, the sophomore forward was anything but, scoring 17 points in 20 minutes off the bench to lead the Cats.

"Today was unexpected from her," Mitchell said. "But I'm happy that we got it."

No. 5 Kentucky needed Bishop's scoring against an LSU team that had upset the Cats twice last season, including in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

With two minutes to go, the Tigers cut the Cats' lead to 64-60 on Adrienne Webb's three-pointer in the corner, but UK managed to rip off nine straight points to end the game.

Theresa Plaisance, who led the Tigers with 19 points and eight rebounds, said of the final two minutes: "A lot of things were falling apart for us and we didn't seem mentally tough or mentally strong enough to finish out the game as well as we could have."

Kentucky (19-2, 7-1) was able to finish in a way it couldn't on Thursday night when the Cats' 17-game win streak came to a screeching halt at South Carolina.

In front of 6,428 at Memorial Coliseum, Kentucky made five of six free throws down the stretch and got key layups from sub Janee Thompson and forward Samarie Walker, who had 10 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.

"The last two minutes of the game, you could see their level of intensity rise," LSU Coach Nikki Caldwell said. "There are teams and players that you can sense they want it more, and Kentucky wanted it more than us."

For Kentucky, which continued two more streaks with 34 straight wins at home and 15 in a row over SEC foes at home, it was about moving on from a tough loss to the Gamecocks.

"We just wanted to get the lesson from the South Carolina game," said senior A'dia Mathies, who had 15 points, five rebounds and three steals. "We just wanted to go out there and play as tough as we could for 40 minutes and not let the other team be more aggressive than us."

Mathies, who struggled early at South Carolina, helped get UK going early this time, scoring six straight to start an 11-3 run that helped the Cats take a 31-26 lead at the break.

Bishop sparked the late rally when she missed an easy bunny before nailing a nothing-but-net three-pointer just 17 seconds later.

"I knew I had to get it back and I was open so I had to take it," she said of her sixth career three-pointer. "It gave me some confidence and I hit my next bucket."

Bishop hadn't scored more than six points in a game since the day after Thanksgiving, leaving Mitchell optimistic about the future.

"It puts her in a tough spot now because we all see what she can do," he said. "She just has to come back and try to become a dependable player for us and if she does, it transforms our basketball team."

Louisiana State (12-8, 3-4) would get as close as one point early in the second half on a Plaisance shot in the lane, but UK responded with a 7-2 run. The Tigers got 18 points and five rebounds from Webb.

Kentucky had six players score eight points or more, including nine points for point guard Jennifer O'Neill and eight points apiece for guards Bria Goss and Thompson.

As Mathies had pointed out, UK was hoping to "get the lesson" from the loss at South Carolina.

Their coach thinks the team did.

"The lesson we learned was even if you're not at your peak performance or feeling the best about yourself, you can still get your attitude right and beat a good team."

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


Next Game

Georgia at Kentucky

When: Sunday, 2 p.m.

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

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