Wildcats' Mathies lacked her usual spark, stat line vs. Navy

jsmith3@herald-leader.comMarch 24, 2013 

  • By the numbers


    The largest margin of victory for Kentucky in an NCAATournament game.


    The fewest points given up by UK in an NCAA tourney game. Cats allowed 15 in second half.


    Jennifer O'Neill had a career-high five steals, tying Cats' single-game tournament record.


    UK's 16 steals tied the school record for an NCAA Tournament game.


    The Cats forced 25 turnovers and are 11-1 this season when forcing 25 or more miscues.

  • Women's NCAA Tournament

    Kentucky vs. Dayton

    When: 7 p.m.

    Where: Queens, N.Y.

QUEENS, N.Y. — Maybe it was the early tip-off that bothered A'dia Mathies.

Maybe it was Kentucky diverging from its pre-game routine and holding the game-day practice the night before.

Maybe it was some bad breaks or tough calls that didn't go her way early in the first round of the NCAA Tournament game on Sunday.

"Maybe she's a senior who feels like the weight of the world is on her," Coach Matthew Mitchell theorized.

Whatever it was, it bothered Kentucky's senior leader and two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year into one of her worst performances in a Kentucky jersey. Mathies was held to five points in 28 minutes.

For the first time since she arrived at UK, she was held without a basket, going 0-for-5. It was Mathies' first single-digit scoring game since Dec. 9 against Middle Tennessee State and just the third of the season.

At the table for post-game interviews, Mathies appeared angry and annoyed.

"I just didn't make any field goals, but my teammates stepped up and made a lot of shots," she said when asked about her play.

It wasn't the missed shots that bothered her coach, though.

"I can always tell when she's ready to play when you see her in a great stance on defense and you see her attack the offensive glass," Mitchell said. "She had zero offensive boards today and she had some good moments defensively, but from the get-go, it wasn't what it needed to be."

He planned to discuss it with his senior star, who came into the game averaging 14.3 points and 4.8 rebounds.

"We'll just talk about it and see what's going on," Mitchell said. "I know she's disappointed she didn't play well."

Before the game against Navy, Mathies' least memorable game was last season against Florida, when she made just one of seven field goal attempts and finished with two points.

The good news for the Cats is that after that dreadful showing, she came back and scored 20 points in her next game at Auburn.

"There's some easy things for her to do that she didn't do today and I'll just encourage her to get that done Tuesday night," Mitchell said. "We all know she's a capable player."

Honoring Navy

After their 20-point win over Navy, Kentucky's players stood directly behind the Midshipmen as the pep band played the service academy's alma mater, Blue and Gold, as a sign of respect.

Mitchell said Navy invited UK's players to do so before the game began, and it was the Cats' honor to be a part of it.

"Anything we can do to be a part of their tradition there, we're happy to do," Mitchell said. "I have a lot of respect for those young women.

"I really respect those young women and what they've decided to do with their lives and what they are doing, not only with the rigors of Annapolis and everything they have to do academically, but add in trying to perform at he highest level of college basketball is so impressive to me."


Commonwealth connections

No. 18 Dayton needed two overtimes to get past tournament host St. John's and set up a second-round game with Kentucky on Tuesday.

The Flyers have plenty of Kentucky connections, including two players from the Commonwealth in Manual grad Brittany Wilson and Marion County's Bre Elder. Wilson came into the tournament averaging 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds and Elder chips in 1.7 points and 1.9 rebounds.

Camryn Whitaker, a former standout at Western Kentucky and Harrison County, is an assistant coach on the Flyers' staff as well.

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

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