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
Courtney Osborn scored a game-high 25 points for the RedHawks,
who lost their second straight and fell to 2-16 against
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
Mitchell had other reasons to be proud of his Wildcats in their
final tuneup before traveling to face No. 6 Louisville on
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.