UK Women's Basketball

Dunlap scores 30 as UK women trounce Tennessee Tech

Victoria Dunlap rejected Tech's Tiara Hopper for one of her four blocks. Dunlap "came in and started dominating," UK sophomore A'dia Mathies said.
Victoria Dunlap rejected Tech's Tiara Hopper for one of her four blocks. Dunlap "came in and started dominating," UK sophomore A'dia Mathies said.

As the video from Kentucky's defeat at Louisville played on the screen, UK's players wanted to turn away.

"It's been an uncomfortable past 48 hours," senior Carly Morrow said. "It was frustrating to see the lack of effort we had."

Coach Matthew Mitchell could describe the 26-point drubbing at Louisville only as an "all-out systems failure."

If that was the case, then No. 18 Kentucky rebooted Tuesday night with a 77-53 win over Tennessee Tech in Memorial Coliseum.

"We didn't play the way we needed to play on Sunday and we used that as our motivation for tonight," Morrow explained.

Fellow senior Victoria Dunlap definitely took out her frustrations on the Golden Eagles. Only a sharp leg cramp near the end of the game was able to slow her down.

Dunlap finished with a season-high 30 points — three shy of her career best — and nine rebounds, five steals and four blocked shots in the win, UK's 21st straight in Memorial Coliseum.

Kentucky (6-1) looked as if it were going to run away with the game early, grabbing a 16-3 lead to open the game behind 12 points from Dunlap, who scored in just about every way possible in the first five minutes, including hitting her first three-pointer of the season.

"She came in and started dominating, and we needed that to get that spark," said sophomore A'dia Mathies, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds. "She's a great leader. ... The fact that she was able to produce really helped us out a lot."

Dunlap, who got six of UK's 20 offensive rebounds (to just seven for Tech), impressed Coach Sytia Messer.

"It's very difficult to match up with her," Messer said. "If someone's missing it, she's following the shot. That's just heart. You can't teach that as a coach. She has a lot of heart."

The Cats led by as many as 18 points with eight minutes left in the first half before Tech stormed back behind former Marion County standout Tacarra Hayes, who re-entered the game despite three fouls and sparked a 12-0 run.

Keisha Moore's layup and subsequent foul shot pulled the Golden Eagles to within six points before Dunlap hit a turnaround jumper at the first-half buzzer to give Kentucky a 39-31 lead.

Mitchell said it was clear from Tech's big run that UK still has some things to learn about effort.

"We're a work in progress here, and Victoria's going to have to shoulder a heavy load, but she can do it," he said.

Dunlap, who admittedly struggles sometimes with the role of vocal leader, tried to encourage her teammates with her play.

"It's me being a leader and being able to step up and say what needs to be said and doing what needs to be done for my team and my teammates," Dunlap said.

Mathies helped her carry the load in the second half, scoring 13 of her 17 points. The sophomore guard finished the game with six steals and four assists and helped force several key turnovers, including three in less than 20 seconds, that ignited a 23-5 run to put the game away.

"We got even more aggressive and tried to create more turnovers, and once we get one it kind of fuels us," Mathies said.

Hayes, the Eagles' leading scorer, fouled out with 7:34 to play and ended the night with 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists. She left amid a seven-minute span that saw Tech score just three points. Kylie Cook also had 13 points.

Former Butler standout Tiara Hopper had nine points and five rebounds for Tennessee Tech, which lost its first road game of the season.

Kentucky forced 29 Tech turnovers and outrebounded a taller Eagles team 45-35. The Cats also outscored the visitors 23-7 on second-chance opportunities.

All but two players scored for the Cats, who also got eight points and nine rebounds from Brittany Henderson.

It's a win that they hope helps them recover from that systems failure their coach described.

"That was a bad loss for us on Sunday," Mitchell said. "We were devastated emotionally. ... You get kicked by your rival, it's a bad thing. If you get caught up in all of that stuff, you miss the point and the opportunity to get better."

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