WOMEN: Balanced Scoring Leads UK to Exh. Victory

LEXINGTON, Ky.— A balanced scoring attack by the Wildcats paced the Kentucky women's basketball team to a 76-62 victory in Memorial Coliseum over the Ohio Legends Thursday in exhibition play.

Freshman center Sarah Elliott led the Cats with 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting and a 4-of-5 clip from the charity stripe. Elliott highlighted the sixth-ranked freshman class, which combined for 30 points and 14 rebounds. Fellow freshman Samantha Mahoney had nine points, while Sade Buley brought down four rebounds. Senior Sara Potts added 10 points and connected on 2-of-4 three-pointers, to complement a team-high six rebounds. All of the UK players that dressed saw action in the game. Junior Stephanie Stumbo did not dress due to an ankle injury.

"We played a lot of people tonight, which was our plan," UK Coach Mickie DeMoss said." I thought we were a little sloppy at times offensively. We got very impatient in our half-court offense and didn't execute extremely well. We had too many turnovers. We shot terrible from the free throw line. But, I thought we ended up shooting well from the field, over 50 percent, and rebounded the ball pretty well. Defensively, I was not pleased with the intensity level. We played way too conservative. But, those are things we can do better."

Kentucky shot 52.7 percent from the field for the game, including a 44.4 percent mark from beyond the arc. The Wildcats compensated for a dismal 25.0 percent free-throw shooting effort in the first half (3-of-12), by shooting 78.6 percent from the charity stripe in the second half (11-of-14). The Ohio Legends completed the game, shooting 35.9 percent from the field.

In her return to Memorial Coliseum for Ohio, former Kentucky guard Racquel Ellis scored eight points, including a 4-of-5 clip from the free-throw line. The Legends were led by former Butler player Nancy Bowden's 17 points.

"I saw them in the training room before the game and talked to all of them. That's when it really started to feel like home to me," Ellis said. "I almost cried when they turned off the lights and I saw them running out during the starting lineups. I think the freshmen did well tonight. It's the first scrimmage and they seemed to be focused already. They have a lot of returning players who already know Coach DeMoss' system, so the freshmen can learn things from them."

Kentucky, which struggled to find its shooting touch early in the game, missed six of seven shots to begin the game. The Wildcats took an 8-4 lead when Jennifer Humphrey was fouled, but converted on a tough basket in deep. The Cats were able to extend their lead to nine, 18-9, when Elliott nailed a shot from the right post with 8:52 remaining in the half.

Trailing 24-16 with 6:44 left in the opening period, the Ohio Legends went on a 4-0 run over the next 2:35 to cut the Kentucky advantage to four, 24-20, but Potts found Elliott under the basket for an easy goal to break the scoring drought. A number of impressive passes by the Wildcats to Humphrey in the paint allowed UK to take a 10-point lead with 1:25 remaining in the first half. A trey by Lexington native Nastassia Alcius near the Ohio Legends bench brought the crowd to its feet and sent UK into the locker room with a 36-25 advantage.

The Wildcats shot 50 percent in the first half on 16-of-32 shooting, while the Legends converted on only 10-of-35 shots for 28.6 percent shooting. Humphrey led the Cats with eight points in the first half on 4-of-5 shooting. Elliott also added eight points, after converting 4-of-6 shots. UK struggled at the charity stripe in the opening stanza, converting only 3-of-12 free-throw attempts and not being able to convert on any three-point plays.

The Wildcats used a potent transition game to open the second half on an 8-5 run. The run was capped off by a Danyelle Payne steal that she took the length of the court for an easy lay-up to give UK a 44-31 lead with 14:57 left in the game. A three-pointer at the top of the key by Potts extended the UK advantage to 12, 47-35.

The Cats took a 13-point lead, 53-40, with 10:04 to go when sophomore Afton Perry completed a tough turn-around jumper despite being fouled. Freshman center Eleia Roddy had all six points during a 6-4 run to push the Cats' lead to 59-47 with 6:23 left. The Legends were able to whittle away the UK lead, coming within nine with just over three minutes remaining, but Kentucky prevented any chance of another run by stepping up its defensive intensity.

"Intensity has to come from the defensive end," DeMoss said. "We were scoring enough points, but we were giving up too many shots. We were playing a lot of people too, so it would be different people breaking down on the defensive end at different times. We just have to get more solid on the defensive end. That's probably my biggest disappointment tonight – our defense."

Kentucky concludes its exhibition season on Nov. 11, when it hosts the West Coast All-Stars at 7 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum. Admission is free and open to the general public.

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