INDIANAPOLIS — Kentucky's All-Stars were barely as big as a basketball the last time a girls team from the Bluegrass State had topped the Hoosiers in the state of Indiana.
It hadn't happened since 1992 when the All-Stars were barely toddlers.
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“We wanted to make history again,” Miss Basketball Tia Gibbs said.
They did, using their superior quickness to down Indiana 76-59 Friday night at Conseco Fieldhouse. The series moves to Louisville Gardens on Sunday afternoon.
“We're thrilled,” Coach Sally Zimmerman said of the win. “We're halfway there. I'm as thrilled as I can be with these girls.”
The Kentucky team led from tipoff until the final whistle and led by as many as 11 points in the first half and 18 points in the second half. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Kentucky girls.
They got off to a speedy start, forcing the Hoosiers into 20 turnovers in the first half and scoring 18 points off those miscues.
“You can't emulate that speed in practice,” Indiana Coach Kem Zolman said. “That gives them 20 extra possessions and we weren't able to overcome that.”
Gibbs said Kentucky knew it was smaller than Indiana and counted on their speed to overcome the height disadvantage.
“Quickness, it helped,” said Gibbs, who had six steals in the first half. “We were able to get around their post players and get up and down the floor in transition. ... We didn't expect the 20 turnovers, but it sure helped.”
Gibbs, a Vanderbilt signee, finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and six steals.
Manual's Brittany Wilson, who will play for Dayton, had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Kentucky. Louisville signee Janae Howard also had 11 points.
Despite the size disadvantage, Kentucky outrebounded the Hoosiers 59-41. Monique Reid, another Louisville signee, led the Kentucky group with 11 rebounds.
“There were just times that they wanted the ball a whole lot more,” Zolman said.
Indiana Miss Basketball Brittany Rayburn said it more simply. “We have to play with more heart,” she said.
Rayburn struggled to find her shot, making just 3 of 12 from the field, turning the ball over six times. Alex Guyton led all scorers with 12 points and seven rebounds.The frantic pace meant an ugly game for both teams, with each turning the ball over 27 times.
A 10-2 run late in the second half helped Indiana cut the Kentucky lead to six points, but the Bluegrass girls responded by scoring nine straight, including four straight points in the lane for Dunbar's Chantelle Pressley.
The Eastern Illinois signee finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
“Every time we made a run, they had answers,” Zolman said. “You have to give Kentucky credit for that.”