SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Kentucky forced 25 turnovers, and junior forward Victoria Dunlap scored a game-high 17 points to lead the Wildcats to a 68-54 road win over UC-Santa Barbara on Wednesday.
Again, UK's stifling defense was the key as the Cats held their fourth straight opponent to less than 50 percent shooting and forced 20-plus turnovers for the third time this season. UK recorded 12 steals and scored 22 points off turnovers.
"I was very happy with our defense," UK Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "We asked our team to give a great effort, and they did. We knew Santa Barbara would be tough, but we felt like we had the ability to pressure them, and we did a great job of that today."
The Cats forced the Gauchos (0-4) into 13 turnovers by halftime, helping UK take a 37-30 lead at the break. Dunlap was 6-for-7 from the floor for 13 points in the opening half. Freshman A'dia Mathies scored all six of her points and grabbed four of her team-high six rebounds in the first half, and Amber Smith dished out five of her season-high seven assists by halftime.
"Our guards worked hard all day long in pressuring their ball handlers," Mitchell said. "Being solid and tough on defense is going to be key for us. Our team will continue to work and develop our fundamentals so we can be a tough defensive team."
The Cats continued their defensive intensity in the second half, jumping out on a 7-2 run to go up 12 points with 16:16 remaining. Junior guard Carly Morrow contributed five of her seven points during the spurt. The Cats' lead never dipped below 10 points the rest of the game.