Kentucky Sports

UK women's basketball: Cats turn up the pressure in 141-63 exhibition rout of Pikeville

Kentucky guards Bria Goss (13) and Jennifer O'Neill trapped  Pikeville's Kelah Eldridge in Memorial Coliseum. The Cats' pressure defense Thursday produced 52 points off 37 turnovers.
Kentucky guards Bria Goss (13) and Jennifer O'Neill trapped Pikeville's Kelah Eldridge in Memorial Coliseum. The Cats' pressure defense Thursday produced 52 points off 37 turnovers. Herald-Leader

For former Marion County teammates, it was like being in high school again.

Makayla Epps and Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, who led the Knights to an undefeated record and a Sweet Sixteen title in 2013, were back in a game together for the first time in more than a year.

They were wearing Kentucky uniforms this time, but they were no less dominant as the No. 11 Cats trounced Pikeville 141-63 in UK's lone exhibition game of the season.

If the game had counted, it would've bested the school scoring record set last season when the Cats scored 133 points against Baylor in four overtimes.

It was a sweet return to the floor for Goodin-Rogers, who missed all of last season with a blood clot in her lungs. She started on Thursday night and finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.

"She's just hungry, wants to be good, wants to play, has just had the best attitude I've seen her have since she's been here," UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said of Goodin-Rogers, who also took three charges in the rout.

Epps, who had her own trials last year with a month in a self-described fog after a car accident, flirted with a triple-double with 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 22 minutes.

"She'll have some special games for us this year," her coach said. "I think she'll be a real key to our success. She's a very gifted basketball player."

Playing in their second exhibition in as many days, the Bears barely had a chance against the UK pressure, which resulted in 52 points off 37 turnovers.

"We went up and down with them, we were just outsized and outquicked a little bit," Pikeville Coach Joanna McNamee said of the Bears, who were led by the 12 points from Kelah Eldridge.

A majority of the Cats' points came in transition. They shot 62.9 percent from the field and nearly 50 percent from three-point range behind 20 points apiece from senior guard Jennifer O'Neill and freshman forward Alexis Jennings.

"Alexis played a hell of a game," said O'Neill, who hit four three-pointers and also had five assists.

O'Neill shrunk down in her seat and apologized meekly for the news conference language before adding of Jennings, who also had four rebounds in her 15 minutes on the floor: "I mean, the kid scored 20 points. She was underrated coming out of high school, but that kid can play."

Jennings wasn't the only one.

Kentucky had eight players finish in double figures, including 19 points, four assists, three steals and three rebounds for Linnae Harper. Azia Bishop added 14 points and eight rebounds.

Janee Thompson had 16 points, six assists, three steals and three rebounds for the Cats, who had 32 assists (20 in the second half) on 56 made baskets.

"Very unselfish team, Kentucky is," McNamee said. "As their opponent, I don't enjoy watching them play, but they're a fun team to watch."

Kentucky opens its season on Nov. 14 versus Appalachian State, just three days before taking on eighth-ranked Baylor at Rupp Arena.

The Pikeville coach joked to her team afterward that playing against UK in an exhibition was "better than selling concessions at a football game" to raise money for the program.

Many of her players got a kick out of getting a chance to play on the floor at UK.

"We have a lot of Kentucky girls on our team and just them getting to play in Memorial and just have that action," McNamee said. "They were fired up just to hear the band and everything."

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