UK Women's Basketball

Both UK, Duke see positives in huge crowd

In general, Kentucky fans dislike Duke. Strongly.

It was part of the draw that got a program-record 14,508 fans to pour into Rupp Arena on Thursday night for the matchup of top 10 teams.

Part of the crowd showed because UK was offering upper-arena tickets for one dollar, which meant several elementary schools made an evening of it.

Freshman Bria Goss doesn't care why the people decided to come watch her No. 10 Cats upend No. 6 Duke 72-65, but she does hope that the show will keep them coming back.

"I encourage everybody to come back and to see us play," Goss said. "This win is one of many. This isn't where we're going to stop. We've got to keep having that support and our outcomes are going to be great."

Her coach, Matthew Mitchell, couldn't have said it better. He said he thought the crowd actually helped UK get through the most difficult parts of the first half when the Cats trailed by as many as eight points.

"The building was fantastic," he said. "The atmosphere was great. Whether we play down here (again), I don't know. But we were awfully happy to get a win tonight."

The crowd was frustrating at times for Duke's players, who turned it over a season-high 24 times.

"That was our first time ever against that type of crowd," guard Chelsea Gray said. "It's a great atmosphere and you just have to get used to it. ... We just have to adapt to the environment and the best we can with it."

Duke Coach Joanne P. McCallie was more big picture about the rowdy 14,508 at Rupp.

"Fifteen thousand for a women's basketball game," McCallie said. "I can't stress how important that is for the women's game."

'That was intense'

Early in the second half, Mitchell was displeased by a call or lack thereof and his jacket came off with a vengeance.

It was a little shocking to Goss and some of her teammates.

"I'm not gonna lie, I got scared a little bit," Goss said. "I've never seen anything like that before. Oh man. That was intense. It shows how much he loves us and cares for us. He thought there was a foul. ... If anybody, he's got our backs."

When asked about it in post-game, Mitchell said he felt bad for doing it.

"I get a little worked up over there sometimes," he said. "I'd been acting really good this year and behaving pretty well and I reverted back to some poor behavior. I'll have to work on that."

It was a big part of the players' post-win discussion, Goss said. That made fifth-year senior Amber Smith smile.

"I've seen it plenty of times," she said. "But it's probably new to the freshmen."

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