LEXINGTON – The No. 6 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team opened its season with a dominating 113-33 exhibition victory over Bellarmine University Monday evening in front 2,202 fans in Memorial Coliseum.
Six Wildcats tallied double-figure points, while 11 of UK’s 12 available players scored at least two points.
Junior Samarie Walker led the Wildcats in scoring with 19 points on a perfect 9-of-9 from the field. The West Carrollton, Ohio, native also chipped in six rebounds and swiped five steals on the evening.
Sophomore Bria Goss contributed 16 points, while redshirt-sophomore Bernisha Pinkett scored 15, senior A’dia Mathies 13, sophomore Azia Bishop 13 and junior DeNesha Stallworth 11.
Freshman Janee Thompson saw her first action as a Wildcat, adding nine points off the bench, while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out four assists.
UK used its signature defensive pressure to win the turnover battle 46-7, while tallying 28 steals on the evening.
Kentucky was 46-of-85 from the floor, including 10-of-24 from the 3-point line.
“We were excited to be back in Memorial Coliseum tonight and get another season started,” coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We were looking for some great attitude, great effort and great energy from our players tonight. I think we had a good night at that. We are not where we need to be but we will keep working towards that, but I was happy with what we got tonight.”
Stallworth scored the first basket of the game for the Wildcats, who never looked back after jumping out to an early 11-8 advantage at the 14:57 mark. From there, UK went on a 51-10 run to end the first half, heading into the locker room with a 62-18 lead.
The Cats scored 18 of the first 22 points in the second stanza to extend their lead to 80-22, before garnering their largest advantage of the contest at 113-31 in the last minute of the game.
Despite the disparity in the score, Mitchell saw areas where the Wildcats could improve defensively.
“I could really get into detail here if you want me to, but defensively, there were some tough matchups for Bellarmine tonight, physically,” Mitchell said. “We can get better defensively. There are some areas there that we need to cleanup. We were able to make some plays tonight because we were more physically talented and we have to sharpen those things up. Very soon we will be playing games where the talent level, there won’t be such a disparity there. I thought Bellarmine played really hard and we gave them a really tough time with just our physical presence.”
Bellarmine head coach Chancellor Dugan applauded Kentucky’s defense and overall aggressiveness.
“We tried to simulate it in practice, having seven people out there on defense but you can’t simulate that,” Dugan said. “They play hard, they get after the ball, and that’s where we are trying to get. We are trying to get the kids in that are aggressive and want to play that type of basketball because that’s the type of basketball that I want to coach.”
Kentucky kicks off the regular season Saturday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum against Delaware State.