No. 9 Kentucky 92, Miami (Ohio) 53
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)
Teammates didn't have to tell Bernisha Pinkett she was playing her best game for Kentucky.
Pinkett saw the possibility of posting her first double-double early in the second half but was concentrating on getting the victory. She succeeded at both, finishing with career highs of 21 points and 10 rebounds that helped the No. 9 Wildcats roll past Miami (Ohio) 92-53 on Wednesday.
''I tried to stay focused on what I was doing and keep playing hard,'' said Pinkett, who also matched a career best with five assists. ''I kept going to the boards and doing whatever I needed to do to get points and help my team get points.''
A'dia Mathies added 14 points, DeNesha Stallworth scored 12 points with eight rebounds and Kentucky (5-1) won its 25th straight home game. Freshman Janee Thompson had 14 points and Bria Goss added 12.
Courtney Osborn scored a game-high 25 points for the RedHawks, who lost their second straight and fell to 2-16 against Kentucky.
It was the breakout game teammates knew Pinkett was capable of producing. The junior reserve guard had entered the contest averaging 7.0 points.
''I talked to her about her effort and she needed to turn it around and to her credit, she really turned it around,'' Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. ''She did all of that in probably the last 30 minutes of the game. Just a really productive day. ... We really needed Bernisha to play well today and I am really proud of her effort.''
Mitchell had other reasons to be proud of his Wildcats in their final tuneup before traveling to face No. 6 Louisville on Sunday.
A 59-percent second half in shooting helped Kentucky finish 50 percent overall for the second straight game. The Wildcats recovered from a sluggish first half rebounding for 36-35 edge.
That slow start could have been because of a morning tipoff before 2,000 sixth-graders. But once Kentucky's defense got going it didn't let up, holding Miami (3-3) to 33 percent shooting and forcing 22 turnovers that led to 29 points.
The Wildcats finished 11 for 29 from 3-point range, got 16 steals and had only seven turnovers.
''You saw their shots. They kept getting more and more accurate and our legs were starting to get tired and we were short,'' RedHawks coach Maria Fantanarosa said. ''As they reloaded, they were rested in the first half and they had shooting legs, that makes the difference.''
Miami led four times in the first 10 minutes by limiting Kentucky to 39 percent shooting. The RedHawks' early aggression helped them get some offensive rebounds and force a couple of turnovers, before Pinkett found her shot.
She helped with a 13-2 run that put Kentucky ahead for good.
Pinkett won a loose-ball scramble beneath the basket to feed Walker for a layup, made a steal and drive and followed up a shot to make it 22-12. After free throws provided a 13-point lead, she made another open 3-pointer to close the half with 12 points and sent the Wildcats into halftime with a 40-28 lead.
''The first time I shot a 3, I thought they were just slipping a little,'' said Pinkett, who was 3-of-6 from behind the arc. ''And then when they left me open again, I was like, `That's fine, I'll just keep shooting it until they come out and get me.'''
The Wildcats' bench also provided depth with 22 points.