UK Women's Basketball

UK women rout Arkansas-Pine Bluff, improve to 10-0

Kentucky Azia Bishop (#50) and Maegan Conwright (#20) pressured Arkansas Pine-Bluff Chigozianyi Okwumabua (#34) in the first half of the game at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky.  Sunday December 11, ©2011.  Photo by Joseph Rey Au
Kentucky Azia Bishop (#50) and Maegan Conwright (#20) pressured Arkansas Pine-Bluff Chigozianyi Okwumabua (#34) in the first half of the game at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky. Sunday December 11, ©2011. Photo by Joseph Rey Au Herald-Leader

Kentucky's smothering defense forced its opponent into a turnover every 48.9 seconds.

The 10th-ranked Wildcats set a school record — for the second time this season — by forcing Arkansas-Pine Bluff to cough up the ball 49 times at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday.

But the final turnover tally wasn't the stat that got Coach Matthew Mitchell's attention, nor the final score of 101-43.

He was most pleased by UK only turning over the ball 10 times itself.

"The margin today is really unbelievable," he said. "That is the players focusing on both ends. ... We were sharp today, and I'm very proud of that."

It was a game that had trap written all over it, sandwiched between big wins over top-10 teams Louisville and Duke and a game at No. 3 Notre Dame looming large.

But against a winless Arkansas-Pine Bluff team, UK started out strong with a 23-5 lead, and it never wavered.

Even without leading scorer A'dia Mathies, who sat out with a sprained left ankle, the Cats (10-0) were fine, getting 19-point performances from freshman Bria Goss and senior Keyla Snowden.

For Goss, who scored 13 of her points in the second half, it was her second straight game with 19 points, her career high. She also had four rebounds and a career-best six steals.

UK's 21 steals in the game were a season high, and the Cats scored 66 points off the Lions' mistakes.

"They guard you from head to toe," Arkansas-Pine Bluff Coach Cary Shelton said. "Wherever the basketball was, they were."

By the half, Kentucky had forced 23 turnovers and turned them into 26 points. On the flip side, Kentucky had just four turnovers of its own at the break.

Frustration was easy to find on the faces of the Pine Bluff players, two of which had as many miscues (10) as UK's entire team.

"It gets frustrating, I'm sure," said UK senior Crystal Riley, who played in her first game of the season after battling a foot injury. "You can't get the ball down the court. You can't make any type of passes. ... I know it's pretty frustrating, but that's what we're about. We want to frustrate them and stress them out as much as we can."

Snowden tied her career high with three steals.

"Our defense is what we focus on, so we want to be the best in the country at turnover margin," she said.

Kentucky was the nation's best in turnover margin before the game, forcing opponents into 14.6 more a game. The Cats' plus-39 margin on Sunday was their best of the season so far.

Three other UK players finished in double figures, including Samantha Drake with 13 points; Bernisha Pinkett, 11 points and career-high five assists; and Azia Bishop, 10 points.

Brittany Henderson, getting the start in place of Mathies, added eight points and seven rebounds.

Mathies hurt in practice

A'dia Mathies, UK's leading scorer with 16.8 points a game, sat out after injuring her left ankle in practice in what Mitchell called a "bang, bang play under the basket."

An X-ray will be done on it on Monday as a precaution, Mitchell said, but he added that the team doctor seemed optimistic.

"We are hopeful it's not too severe," he said.

Riley back in action

Backup senior point guard Crystal Riley missed the first nine games of the season with a nagging foot injury, but she was able to play 19 minutes on Sunday.

She scored three points and had two rebounds and two steals.

Mitchell said it was great to see her back on the floor, where she seemed a little rusty, missing all but one of her seven shots.

"She got a little happy out there shooting the ball today, but she's a good weapon for us, keeping the tempo going, and I thought she played pretty good defense," he said.

Riley said she'll be feeling the playing time Sunday night.

"Let's just say I was very winded," she said. "But it felt good, way better than sitting on the sidelines."

Ali sits this one out

Freshman forward Bra'Shey Ali did not see the floor for the game, but she did dress and participate in warmups.

Mitchell declined to say why she was held out other than to say "she just didn't play today."

Ali missed three games earlier this season.

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