UK Women's Basketball

Rout ends Cats' drought

The Kentucky coach and his players did their best to keep the post-game talk quiet and low-key.

Even though they had just ended five years of frustration and beaten Louisville by the second-largest margin in series history, 101-67, the Cats kept the chatter to a minimum.

"It's just another win," junior Victoria Dunlap said. "They're our rival school, but it's just another win."

But point guard Amber Smith couldn't hold back for the entire news conference.

At the end, when asked whether she thought the season-high crowd of 7,323 at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday would be back, she smiled.

"I think so," she said. "We put on a show."

Indeed they did.

The Cats' grabby pressure defense forced Louisville into 38 turnovers, the most in school history. The Cardinals were without a true point guard because of injuries, and UK took advantage.

"We played terrible," Cards Coach Jeff Walz said. "We're bad. It's OK to be honest. I've got no problem with honesty. I'm all about it. We were absolutely terrible today."

UK's defense was part of that. It got a season-high 21 steals, including eight from star junior Victoria Dunlap. The Cats scored 39 points off of Cards turnovers.

The 24 turnovers by Louisville in the first half, when UK led by as much as 24, were as many as the Cards had in an entire game against Tennessee on Wednesday.

They had their season high of 26 just four minutes into the second half.

"We're not very good," Walz said. "When you turn the ball over 38 times, that's pretty impressive. It's hard to do it much more."

Four UK players finished in double figures, led by Dunlap's 27 points, nine rebounds, eight steals and four blocks.

"She's demanding the ball, and they're throwing it to her," Walz said of Dunlap. "You can't play her one-on-one. She's as good of a post player as we've played all year. ... She's fantastic."

Smith added a career-high 19 points and five assists. A'dia Mathies chipped in 15 points and four steals, and Carly Morrow had 12 points and five steals.

Coach Matthew Mitchell said the way UK performed Sunday is the way he wants it to perform each game.

"Our goal was to play the way we played: pedal to the metal, 40 minutes, and I thought our team did a fantastic job with that," he said.

"I've never seen us, since I've been here, as focused and intent on getting the job done as we were this week. They put in the time and the effort, and it paid off with a big win."

It was a milestone win for the Cats, who got their 10th straight victory, the best start in program history.

Kentucky also ended a five-game drought against the Cardinals, who advanced to the NCAA championship game last season but graduated two key seniors, including All-American Angel McCoughtry

UK's athleticism led to first-half foul trouble for the Cardinals, who had eight players with two fouls or more, four with three or more and one, Keshia Hines, with four fouls. Kentucky capitalized by making 21 of 30 free throws by intermission.

"We did two things really well tonight, and that's foul and turn the ball over," Walz said. "We've got to find an answer for it. A lot of it comes down to just want. You've got to want to move your feet."

On her 20th birthday, Becky Burke led Louisville with 21 points, but she turned over the ball eight times. Monique Reid added 17 points and 10 rebounds. Ashley Rainey chipped in 10 points and 10 rebounds, but both Kentucky natives had six miscues each.

While Walz could find little positive to say about his 6-5 Cardinals after their loss, Mitchell couldn't find enough positive things to say about his team.

"I couldn't be more pleased and more proud of them because they absolutely earned a big victory," he said. "They showed incredible enthusiasm, incredible energy and incredible effort."