UK Women's Basketball

UK women: Goss a proven take-charge defender for Cats

Connecticut guard Caroline Doty (5) pushed away from UK's Bria Goss in last season's NCAA regional finals. Goss, a junior guard, has taken 17 charges this season. That's three more than her teammates combined.
Connecticut guard Caroline Doty (5) pushed away from UK's Bria Goss in last season's NCAA regional finals. Goss, a junior guard, has taken 17 charges this season. That's three more than her teammates combined. Herald-Leader

Bria Goss's rigid body fell hard to the court.

She stayed still, motionless for two seconds before she turned her head just slightly to look at the official, who was halfway through the motion of calling a charge on the Alabama forward.

The Kentucky guard leaped to her feet with a high-wattage smile, beaming from the high-risk, high-reward play she'd just made.

"I'm all for just taking one for the team or doing what I need to do to get that ball back," said the UK junior, who has taken 17 charges already this season, including two in that conference opener at Alabama on Thursday. "You've got to do what you've got to do."

Goss's 17 taken charges are three more than her teammates combined so far this season, nine more than Jennifer O'Neill, who is second best on the team at it.

Goss's 17 charges are just three shy of the team-best 20 charges she took last season with nearly an entire Southeastern Conference slate still to play, starting on Sunday against Florida (11-3, 1-0) at Memorial Coliseum.

The 5-foot-10 guard from Indianapolis almost has made drawing charges an art form in her three seasons at UK (13-1, 1-0), where she's led the team in that stat each year, taking 58 of them so far.

That number is incredible to senior teammate Kastine Evans.

"It's really hard to do," Evans said. "It's hard to just stand there and know someone is basically about to run over you."

Most of the time making the play is much more mental than physical, Evans said.

"It's whether you want to sacrifice for your team," she said. "It's a real hostile play, but a real important play for your team."

Goss happened upon taking charges by accident when she was in a high school AAU event.

"I was standing there and the girl just kind of ran me over," Goss said. "I wasn't paying that much attention. Since then I've tried to make it my thing."

It's definitely not a thing every player wants to do or is even willing to do, Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said last week, even though it's something he'd like all of them to do.

When asked why Goss was so good at taking charges, his answer was simple: She's willing to do it.

"She doesn't hop out of the way when the ball handler's coming toward the basket," the UK coach said. "The fact that she will just take one is key to her success there."

Kentucky, known for its hostile defense, tries to work on taking charges in practice — getting low in the right stance, squaring shoulders, being able to show the official that sufficient contact occurred — but there's a fine line when working on them.

"You kind of try to balance out how much contact you plan in practice, so we've worked on it some but I just think at some point it has to be our players' mindset," he said. "And Bria has a great mindset for that. She's really the only person that's doing it consistently well on the team and that needs to change, I think."

Not everyone is pleased that Goss is so willing to sacrifice her body with such regularity.

In high school after that accidental charge, Goss got so fired up about taking them that she tried to do it as much as possible.

"I'd always try to take charges from bigger people and my mom was always like, 'No. Don't do that. You're going to get hurt,'" Goss recalled.

It's not like the junior guard is a masochist or something.

She doesn't love the collision part. And not all charges are created equal.

"Every time you're on help side or someone's on fast break, coming at you like that, I don't like those at all," she said. "But you've got to do what you've got to do.

"The ones I do like is when you're on the ball and you happen to be there in the right spot and get run over. Those are far less painful."

But Goss will take both because she knows how important they are.

"If I get a charge, people get excited, it gets us going," she said.

The junior's only regret is that there isn't more of a payoff for the bodily harm.

"I just wish we could shoot free throws for taking charges," Goss said with a smile, failing to mention that she leads the SEC in free throw shooting, making 91.1 percent of her shots.


Florida at No. 6 Kentucky

When: 3 p.m.

When: WLAP-AM 630


NO. 6 KENTUCKY (13-1, 1-0 SEC)

Starters: Bria Goss, 5-10, Jr., G (10.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg); Kastine Evans, 5-9, Sr. (11.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg); Janee Thompson, 5-6, So., PG; (10.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.3 apg); Samarie Walker, 6-1, Sr., F (10.4 ppg, 9.6 rpg); Azia Bishop, 6-3, Jr., F (6.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg).

Key reserves: Jennifer O'Neill, 5-6, Jr., G (12.9 ppg, 3.8 apg); Makayla Epps, 5-10, Fr., G (5.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg); Linnae Harper, 5-8, Fr., G (7.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg); Bernisha Pinkett, 5-7, Sr., G (5.2 ppg); Jalleah Sydney, 6-2, Jr. (3.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg).

FLORIDA (11-3, 1-0 SEC)

Starters: Jaterra Bonds, 5-7, Sr., G (16.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg); January Miller, 5-8, So., G (12.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg); Cassie Peoples, 5-6, So., G (11.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.6 apg); Lily Svete, 6-2, Sr., G/F (5.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg); Kayla Lewis, 6-0, Jr., G/F (9.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg).

Key reserves: Christin Mercer, 6-0, So., F (11.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg); Ronnie Williams, 6-0, Fr., F (8.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg); Carlie Needles, 5-6, So., G (5.6 ppg); Antoinette Bannister, 5-10, So., G (6.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg).