UK Women's Basketball

Cats show moxie in win over Mocs

There are going to be the so-called "off nights" offensively for Kentucky.

The Cats won't always be able to score 80 points a game or count on a double-double from Victoria Dunlap.

But in a come-from-behind 65-55 win over Chattanooga, they learned that there are two things they can fall back on: defense and energy.

"Defense is our go-to," Rebecca Gray said she told her UK teammates when they fell behind by 10 points early in the second half. "Our practices have been nothing but defense lately. We know that even if our shots aren't falling, the defense is going to produce some points for us."

Defense was the most valuable player late in the second half for the Cats, who made a season-low 39.3 percent of their shots.

Kentucky's defense held Chattanooga to just 13 points in the final 12 minutes of the game. The Mocs managed just one field goal in a nearly seven-minute span while UK went on a 13-2 run.

A'dia Mathies led four UK players in double digits with 14 points, 12 came in the second half. Mathies said she was frustrated after the first half.

"Coach told me not to let one mistake turn into another mistake and another mistake," Mathies said. "He told me to erase the memory and fortunately I was able to change it in the second half."

Mathies, Kentucky's Miss Basketball out of Iroquois, also had game-highs with three blocks and four steals and helped key the defensive surge in the second half.

"At some point, Kentucky really turned up the heat and made it tough for us to make entry passes," Mocs Coach Wes Moore said. They "put a lot of pressure on the ball and we didn't handle it real well."

Up until that time, Chattanooga's game plan seemed to be working well.

The Mocs were holding Dunlap, who came in averaging 23 points and 15.3 rebounds, to single digits.

"Anytime you get triple-teamed you're going to get slowed down a little bit," Gray joked. "So we tried to work the inside-out game a little bit. It was pretty successful for us."

Dunlap, who had foul troubles much of the game, still finished with 12 points and four rebounds.

At the start of the second half, Chattanooga grabbed a nine-point lead on Shanara Hollinquest's putback.

The Southern Conference Player of the Year managed her third straight double-double with 18 points and 11 boards.

Mitchell saw heads hanging during the timeout after Chattanooga grabbed its 39-30 lead.

"I told them the only way we could get it going was through defensive intensity and creating positive energy through hustle," he said.

Hustle paid dividends for UK, which scored 28 points off of 24 Mocs miscues.

Out of Mitchell's timeout, freshman reserve Brittany Henderson made a shot in the lane, then Lydia Watkins added a banked-in three-pointer, followed by two Mathies free throws and a Gray bomb from the left corner.

The former Scott County star had 10 points, three steals and two assists.

Henderson had a career-high 10 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes. She also had two blocked shots and no turnovers.

"I really like the energy Brittany Henderson played with tonight," Mitchell said. "She was a person who came in and gave us some great energy."

When the shots weren't falling, defense was able to come through and give UK its fourth straight win of the new season and its best start since going 8-0 in the 2005-06 season.

"You can't play 30 perfect games," Mitchell said. "And tonight was not one of our best, but I'm really proud of the team to come out with a victory on a night when things clearly weren't going our way."

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