Posted: Feb 10, 2013 8:44 PM
A'dia Mathies spent some extra time practicing from beyond the arc in Kentucky's shootaround, trying to work out a kink in her form.
The senior guard found what she needed.
Mathies scored a season-high 28 points, including five 3-pointers, and 10th-ranked Kentucky beat Vanderbilt 75-53 Sunday for the Wildcats' second straight road victory.
"She was hot from the 3-point line," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "She was aggressive today. She made them pay for open looks at the 3-point stripe, and it's difficult to beat us when she's playing that well. I think that A'dia knew how important this game was and how difficult it is to play here. And I thought she played like the player of the year that she is."
The Wildcats (21-3, 9-2) came in tied for third in the Southeastern Conference, and they are finishing the regular season with five of their final seven league games on the road. Mathies had gone a combined 2 of 9 from 3-point range in the previous two games, and she said she was just glad she took the extra shots in the shootaround.
"It started feeling like it used to feel, and it showed today," Mathies said.
The Wildcats followed up an overtime win at Arkansas by taking control late in the first half in this one. Kentucky has won five straight in this series while handing Vandy its worst loss this season.
"It's always tough to beat Vanderbilt," Mitchell said. "They are well coached, and they have some good players, so this is an outstanding victory for our basketball team."
Bria Goss had 15 for Kentucky, while Jennifer O'Neill and Samarie Walker each had 10.
Vanderbilt (15-8, 5-5) has lost five of eight, and the Commodores are 1-6 against teams currently ranked in the Top 25.
"They were a little bit more physical than us," Vanderbilt guard Jasmine Lister said. "We let them dictate what we what we wanted to do on offense and defense."
Tiffany Clarke led the Commodores with 20 points. Christina Foggie had 12 before being knocked out of the game with an injured right knee, and Jasmine Lister had 10.
Foggie, the SEC's leading scorer last season and sixth this season averaging 15.9 points per game, hurt her knee with 4:43 left and Kentucky up 66-47. She was reaching for a loose ball when Azia Bishop of Kentucky dived for the ball and banged into Foggie. That left Foggie on the court for a couple minutes before she walked with assistance to the edge of the court. She was then carried to the locker room.
The collision was just in front of the Kentucky bench, and Mitchell said Bishop was hustling for the ball after missing a layup when she dived for the ball.
"She looked like she was in pain so we certainly hope she's all right," Mitchell said. "She's a great player and ... she's a really tough competitor."
Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said Foggie would have an MRI as soon as it can be scheduled.
This game was decided well before then.
Vanderbilt had the advantage of a week off going into this game, while Kentucky played at Arkansas on Thursday night. The Wildcats had much more energy as they had a 39-27 edge on the boards and forced 23 turnovers. Kentucky used that for a 27-17 scoring edge off turnovers while turning 13 steals into 10 fast-break points. The Wildcats also hit 10 of 22 from 3-point range.
Kentucky led 31-22 at halftime after finishing the half outscoring Vanderbilt 16-7. The Commodores hit seven of their first eight shots against Kentucky's pressure defense and just kept moving the ball inside for layup after layup. But the Wildcats had seven steals and forced Vanderbilt into 15 turnovers by halftime, and they wore down the Commodores.
The game started tight with three ties and five lead changes, and Clarke's layup with 8:30 left gave Vanderbilt its last lead at 17-15. Then the Commodores went cold and hit only two more shots the rest of the half. Goss hit a 3 with 8:02 to go, giving Kentucky the lead for good, and Mathies only warmed up as she capped an 11-0 spurt with back-to-back buckets. She also added a pair of free throws and hit a 3 in the final seconds for the 31-22 halftime lead.
Vanderbilt came in as the SEC's most accurate free throw shooters in league play, hitting 79.7 percent of its shots. Against Kentucky, the Commodores didn't get to the free throw line until 17:11 of the second half when DaNesha Stallworth picked up her third foul.
"One of our goals was to get to the free throw line, and we weren't there at all at half," Balcomb said. "And that was one of the glaring things. Being strong enough to get open. They make it very difficult to even get off screens or get open. We were struggling to get open."