UK Women's Basketball

UK cruises past Tennessee-Martin; Dunlap banged up but apparently OK

Kentucky forward Victoria Dunlap (34) was carried off the floor after colliding with teammate Kentucky guard Crystal Riley (3) as #11 Kentucky played Tennessee-Martin on Thursday December 30, 2010 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Kentucky forward Victoria Dunlap (34) was carried off the floor after colliding with teammate Kentucky guard Crystal Riley (3) as #11 Kentucky played Tennessee-Martin on Thursday December 30, 2010 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

Memorial Coliseum was silent as senior star Victoria Dunlap writhed on the floor in pain after a loose-ball collision with a Kentucky teammate.

It stayed quiet as the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year was carried off the floor by two trainers because she couldn't put weight on her left leg with 10 minutes remaining of what had been an uneventful game.

No. 11 Kentucky probably won't need a replacement for Dunlap, who said after the 68-47 win over University of Tennessee at Martin that she is fine, but it may have found her some extra help in the post.

Freshman Samantha Drake had a career night with 14 points and 13 rebounds to help UK to its 25th win in a row at home.

"I'm feeling a lot better about my play," Drake said afterward. "After the last game, I had a talk with Coach and just tried to come in with a passion for the game tonight and tried to help get the win."

For the third straight game, junior guard Keyla Snowden led the Cats in scoring with 17 points, including five three-pointers.

Snowden got some room to shoot because of UK's ability to get points in the paint, and many of those came from Drake.

The morning of the game, the former Nelson County standout met with Coach Matthew Mitchell and they talked about her keeping her head up.

Mitchell had watched film and saw a player who was being hard on herself.

"The second she missed a shot, she was down," Mitchell relayed. "She's a player who's really scored a lot in her (high school) career; that's how she identifies herself as a player. She was much better tonight with energy. She missed a lot of shots (3-for-8 from the field) but kept battling."

Drake said she just tried to turn his suggestions into action.

"We talked about how missing offensive shots can't affect you the rest of your game, that you just have to keep having to pull through it," she said.

Drake, who also had three steals, two blocked shots and an assist, admitted that making the leap to college has been a challenge.

"The tempo's a lot quicker and players are a lot bigger than the players I'm used to playing against," Drake said.

Kentucky sped up the pace in the second half and was able to put together a 22-6 run to put the game out of reach. The Skyhawks (7-7) went without a point for more than four minutes during that span.

The Cats (11-1) got more aggressive in that span, making seven trips to the free- throw line. That aggression was the difference, Martin Coach Kevin McMillan said.

"They were just pounding us and attacking, attacking, attacking," he said. "When you get teams back on their heels they're going to foul more. They earned their points at the free-throw line, especially on the boards, getting second and third shots."

The UK coach said he was pleased to get the win, but he saw plenty of places where his team needs to get better, like not missing 10 layups.

"It wasn't our best showing, but it was good to get a win," Mitchell said. "I'm glad to close out 2010 with a win."

Making improvements will be key for Kentucky, which has back-to-back road games at No. 3 Duke and then No. 25 Arkansas next week.

Dunlap had seven points and seven rebounds for Kentucky. She plans to be back for the big games next week.

"I'll be all right," she said in the post-game news conference. The senior came in without any kind of knee brace or ice and appeared to be getting around OK.

More tests will be done on the knee, but the coach said he's optimistic.

"We're hopeful that's not anything serious," he said. "She's just real sore. ... We have our fingers crossed."

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