HANOVER, N.H. --- SeSe Helm paced three Wildcats in double figures with a team-high 17 points in Kentucky's 59-44 win over Southern Mississippi in the first round of the Blue Sky Restaurant Group Classic on Friday.
With the win, the Cats advance to the championship game on Saturday, at 8 p.m. ET against the winner of Dartmouth/Lafayette.
The score remained tight most of the game before Kentucky began to pull away late in the second half. The Cats took their biggest lead (59-41) with only 41 seconds to go in the game.
Senior LaTonya McDole and freshman Sara Potts also played key roles in the win. McDole, who was held scoreless in the first half, scored all 10 of her points in the second half. She also led the squad in rebounding with seven. Potts nailed three three-pointers for the third straight time to finish with 11.
Junior Rita Adams scored only two points in the contest, but recorded a team-high eight assists and five steals. Helm's 17 points was her 11th straight game to score in double figures.
"I'm proud of the way we hung in the game tonight," UK Coach Bernadette Mattox said. "Southern Miss kept making little runs at us and we remained poised. We need to get better on the boards, but overall I was pleased with our effort."
Kentucky (6-5) opened the contest with a 7-2 advantage, holding the Golden Eagles (6-6) scoreless until the 17:48 mark. Southern Miss would answer with an 8-4 run to pull within one at 11-10. Sophomore Shambrica Jones' turnaround jumper with five minutes left gave the Cats their largest lead of the half at eight. UK headed to the locker room at the half with a four-point cushion.
In the second half, Jones' two points once again made it an eight-point game with nine minutes removed from the half. Southern Miss kept fighting, pulling to within five, 43-38 with seven minutes to go. The Cats responded with an 8-0 run in the final minutes to seal with win..0D
UK was outrebounded 48-41 but forced 27 Golden Eagle turnovers compared to only 23 for UK.
Southern Miss had two players in double figures, led by Victoria Mason and LaTasha Sumerall with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Forward Sonja Brown pulled down a game-high 11 boards for the Golden Eagles.
The Cats, who won the Dartmouth Classic in 1997, are now 68-27 all-time in regular season tournaments.