UK Hoops Defeats Pikeville 141-63 in Exhibition Play
Eight Wildcats scored in double figures led by Jennifer O’Neill and Alexis Jennings
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Led by eight players with at least 10 points, the Kentucky women’s basketball team opened the 2014-15 season with a 141-63 exhibition victory over Pikeville on Thursday in Memorial Coliseum.
The Wildcats improved to 7-1 in exhibition contests under eighth-year head coach Matthew Mitchell. The meeting between UK and NAIA member Pikeville was the first in the series.
“It was good to get into Memorial Coliseum tonight and play and be back on that floor,” Mitchell said. “We believe this is the most special place in the country to play and we love being in Memorial. I thought the players did what they were charged to do tonight. We really talked about energy and effort and playing hard. We are long way away from being a finished product, but we have worked very hard on our effort and conditioning and running the floor. So, the things that we could control tonight – I thought we did a pretty good job.”
UK’s offensive charge was led by senior guard Jennifer O’Neil (Bronx, N.Y.) and freshman forward/center Alexis Jennings (Madison, Ala.), each with 20 points. As a team, Kentucky was 56-89 from the field and 11-23 from beyond the arc.
Kentucky won the turnover battle by a 37-16 margin. Fifty-two of UK’s 141 points came off turnovers, and the Wildcats held an 18-0 advantage in fast-break points.
Pikeville was held to 23-57 shooting and 6-20 from beyond the arc. In addition to forcing 63 turnovers, the UK defense held the Bears to 26 points in the paint and just four second-chance points. In contrast, the Wildcats scored 80 points in the paint and had 25 second-chance points.
Sophomore Makayla Epps (Lebanon, Ky.) just missed out on a triple-double, with 18 points, a team-high-tying eight rebounds and a team-high-tying eight assists. Senior Bria Goss (Indianapolis) also had eight assists in addition to 11 points and four rebounds, while fellow senior Azia Bishop (Toledo, Ohio) had eight rebounds and 14 points. Sophomore Linnae Harper (Chicago) was one shy of tying for the team lead with 19 points.
Kentucky jumped out to an early 4-0 lead on a pair of free throws and a Bishop layup. Pikeville cut UK’s lead to two at 7-5, but that’s when the Wildcats went on a 12-0 run to break the game open. The stretch, which gave Kentucky a 19-5 advantage, was fueled by two three-pointers by O’Neill and two Harper layups.
With a 26-13 lead, UK extended its advantage to 24 at 40-16. Bishop had five of her 14 points in the run, while Jennings and sophomore Kyvin Goodin-Rogers each tallied four points.
A jumper by junior Janee Thompson (Chicago) with seven seconds left in the first half gave UK a 58-34 lead at the break.
Eight seconds into the second half, Thompson buried a three to add to UK’s lead, which it extended to 89-42 with a 16-0 run. After a Pikeville jumper ended Kentucky’s run, the Wildcats turned around and scored 11 in a row to hit the century mark for a 100-44 lead.
The Wildcats continued to expand on their lead until the final buzzer for a 141-63 victory.
Kentucky begins the 2014-15 regular season vs. Appalachian State on Friday, Nov. 14. Set for a 7 p.m. ET first tip from Memorial Coliseum, the contest will air on the SEC Network+ and on the UK Radio Network. Tickets are available on UKHoopstix.com or Ticketmaster.com.