Mathies scores 26 points, Kentucky beats Murray St
No. 9 Kentucky played without All-American forward Victoria Dunlap for the last 26 minutes of its game against Murray State on Friday night.
It didn't matter.
Sophomore guard A'dia Mathies scored 26 points and had a career-high 10 rebounds to lead Kentucky to a 91-59 victory over the Racers in the opening round of the Lady Eagle Thanksgiving Classic.
''I was really proud of the team for pulling together with some odd combinations that we really aren't used to using, and they were able to extend the lead and get a good win,'' Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said.
Dunlap played only 10 minutes, leaving the game as a precaution after taking a charge and hitting the back of her head on the floor with 6:27 left in the first half.
The senior, who came in averaging 19.3 points and 10.7 rebounds a game, finished with four points and seven rebounds.
Kentucky's starting center Samantha Drake also watched from the bench for a second consecutive game because of a bruised knee.
The Wildcats (4-0) will meet host Southern Miss (3-1) on Saturday in the championship game. The Lady Eagles topped Louisiana-Lafayette 76-73 in overtime in the Classic's first game.
Kentucky got a big boost early from junior guard Carly Morrow, who had not scored in the Wildcats' first three games.
Morrow had 10 of her 11 points in the first half as the Wildcats roared to a 41-21 halftime lead. She also added five rebounds, four assists and a steal in 15 minutes on the floor.
''Carly started the game with a great spark, and that was really good for her,'' Mitchell said. ''A'dia, we really talked to her at halftime to try and get her to pick up the pace, and I thought she really responded beautifully.''
Mathies scored 18 points in the second half, as the Wildcats substituted often.
''We had a lot of young kids out there playing,'' Mitchell said. ''I'm sure it looked a little crazy at times, but I thought the effort stayed solid all night long, and that's what we needed.''
Freshman guard Maegan Conwright added 13 points for Kentucky, while fellow freshman guard Kastine Evans had 11 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore forward Brittany Henderson came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds.
Murray State was led by junior forward Kayla Lowe and sophomore guard Mariah Robinson with 14 points each, while junior guard Rachael Isom added 12.
Mitchell said he hoped that Dunlap would be available to play against USM, but that that decision wouldn't be made until Saturday.
''She seems to be doing well, but we'll have to check her (Saturday), and hopefully, she's available,'' Mitchell said. ''At halftime, her head was still hurting, and she was a little fuzzy, so it was absolutely precautionary. We're hoping that it's not a concussion.''
He also said that Drake's knee would be tested Saturday to see whether she would be able to return to the court.