UK Women's Basketball

Dunlap leads UK women to opening win

There was a lot of pre-season talk about Kentucky's incoming freshmen and transfers.

There was a lot of pre-season hype about the team having not one, but two Kentucky Miss Basketballs on the roster.

But Victoria Dunlap showed she's still the top Cat on Friday in a 92-58 win over Boston University.

"I thought she played awesome," point guard Amber Smith said. "She's just awesome. ... She just does so many things — blocks, steals. She does everything."

Playing in the nation's first major-college women's game of the season, the junior post player tied her career high with 24 points and led four Cats in double figures at Memorial Coliseum.

The early-morning wake-up call for the 11 a.m. start didn't seem to faze Dunlap, who had her 14th career double-double with 12 rebounds and a career-high five steals.

"I finally had to get her out of the game; I thought she was going to hurt herself out there she was so intense," Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said.

Dunlap had 11 points less than nine minutes into the game.

"She's not the traditional post player; she really opens up to the basket and makes a quick move and knows how to get fouled as well," Boston Coach Kelly Greenberg said. "She does a lot of good things and really plays hard."

Dunlap, who earned pre-season All-Southeastern Conference second-team honors, also had 13 of the 32 UK deflections that helped lead to 29 Terriers turnovers. The Cats' 15 steals were the most they've had since January 2007.

Kentucky forced the Terriers into turnovers on their first six possessions and set the tempo with its running, aggressive style.

"Defensively, they did a nice job of getting into our heads," said Greenberg, whose team was held to 31.5 percent shooting, including 26.9 percent in the second half.

It wasn't just a good day for the one Kentucky junior from Nashville.

It was a good day for every player in that class.

Both Smith and fellow guard Carly Morrow finished just shy of their career highs. Morrow had 17 points and made a career-best five three-pointers, including four in the second half. She also had four steals.

When the shots started falling for the junior guard, she said she felt "relieved."

Mitchell said it was nice to see Morrow making those shots because "that kid has worked her tail off since she got to Kentucky."

Smith, going brace-free on her surgically repaired knee this season, showed signs of being the player she was as a freshman, slashing through the lane to score 16 points and grab four rebounds.

"I know the team feeds off me and if I'm scoring or not scoring, I've just got to get my team the ball," Smith said.

UK grabbed a 12-2 lead to start the game, but the Terriers, who were led by Kristen Sims' 17 points, climbed back to tie it 12-12.

The Cats responded with a 10-0 run that helped them start to pull away for good.

Kentucky never trailed and led by as many as 34 points late in the game.

"It was a good way to start, but we have a long way to go to become a finished product," Mitchell said.

The juniors weren't the only stars for UK, which shot 42.3 percent from the field, including 48.6 percent in the second half.

Many of the highly touted newcomers and transfers did their parts, too.

Kentucky's 2009 Miss Basketball, A'dia Mathies, had 13 points and seven rebounds in her Wildcats debut. And 2007 Miss Basketball Rebecca Gray, who transferred home from North Carolina, added eight points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals off the bench.

Notes

The Memorial Coliseum crowd was announced at 3,934 for the oddly timed game, but UK uses all paid admission in its count. So season ticket holders are counted whether they were there or not. The 8,500-seat venue looked about a third full at its peak Friday.

■ Senior reserve Lydia Watkins sat out because of a shoulder injury she sustained in last week's exhibition. The swing player is listed as day-to-day.

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