More than once this season, Coach Matthew Mitchell has accused forward Victoria Dunlap of hiding on offense, of not demanding the ball, of letting other people make the big play at the big time.
The sophomore showed that he might have been right Thursday night when she scored a career-high 24 points in Kentucky's 81-76 overtime win over Chattanooga in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament.
Mitchell pointed specifically to one offensive putback the All-Southeastern Conference player had in the extra period, calling it an "unreal play.
"That's what big-time players do in crucial situations, they make big-time plays," he said. "I'm very, very proud of Victoria Dunlap tonight. She was everything I wanted her to be."
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Dunlap scored 16 of her career-high points in the second half and overtime. She also added nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.
"She's a great player," UTC Coach Wes Moore said of Dunlap, whom he recruited out of Brentwood Academy in Nashville. "Her motor runs high and Matthew's done a good job of using her in such a way that she's hard to stop."
Dunlap doesn't like to think of herself as a go-to player, but with teammate Eleia Roddy struggling at times on offense and with foul trouble, the sophomore forward said she felt like it was her time.
"After I started hitting shots, I guess I was kind of feeling it," Dunlap said. "I felt like I had to step up for the team just to make something happen."
Roddy and Dunlap carried the Cats early in the overtime, when UK used a 9-1 run to take over the game.
Amani Franklin, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, made six key free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
"I knew we were going to take over in overtime," said Amber Smith, who tied her career-high with 17 points and six assists. "As soon as we scored that first basket, I knew momentum was going to carry us. Everybody just got into a groove and went from there."
There was little to no grooving on the UK bench after the Cats blew a 12-point second-half lead and allowed Chattanooga to use a 17-6 run to get back in it. The Lady Mocs forced overtime with an Erin Ogan off-balance three-pointer with 12 seconds to play.
That shot silenced the small crowd of 1,037 at Memorial Coliseum.
Ogan had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Mocs. Shanara Hollinquest led them with 28 points and 13 rebounds.
With just a few ticks left on the clock, Franklin missed a 15-footer that would have won the game, but Kentucky regrouped.
"You go in on a real downer there with that three, but credit our players. They made some outstanding defensive plays," Mitchell said.
Franklin said there were no doubts in the huddle.
"We just had to stick together and we were able to do that and win it," she said.
Kentucky (16-15), which is now 5-0 in WNIT first-round games, moves on to play at Wisconsin on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Badgers (18-14) are playing in their fifth WNIT and are 13-3 in their previous tournaments, with a championship in 2000.
It was at Wisconsin that UK's WNIT post-season ended in 2007, when the Badgers beat Kentucky 67-61 in the third round. The Cats will go into Wisconsin trying to break a seven-game losing streak to Big Ten opponents.
For the Lady Mocs (22-10), it was the third time in five years that the Cats have knocked them out of the post-season, but Moore was proud of their fight at the end.
"Our kids showed a lot of heart," he said. "We fell down double digits on the road to an SEC team. It would have been real easy to fold the tents and call it a year, but we extended it to overtime."