No. 16 Kentucky 71, South Carolina 50

Kentucky was too dominant for South Carolina on Sunday.

The No. 16 Wildcats cruised to a 71-50 win over the Gamecocks on

senior day to finish the regular season unbeaten at home for the

second time.

“Playing at such a high rate was the difference maker,”

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. “When we took control it was

an incredible display. We made this an important game and responded

with energy and enthusiasm.”

Forward Victoria Dunlap scored 16 points for Kentucky, which led

by 22 points as South Carolina shot just 32 percent from the floor

and never found rhythm in front of 7,742 at Memorial Coliseum. It

was the sixth-largest crowd in school history.

“We just couldn’t rebound or defend,” South Carolina coach

Dawn Staley said. “They played with a lot more energy than

us.”

The Gamecocks struggled to slow the speedy guards of Kentucky

(23-4, 11-3 Southeastern Conference) as they weaved through zone

and pressure defenses. South Carolina had no answer for Kentucky’s

up-tempo style of play.

“We knew going in that we were able to beat them up and down

the court,” forward Amani Franklin said. “We knew they wouldn’t

be able to stop us.”

The win avenged a Kentucky loss suffered to the Gamecocks

(13-13, 6-7) in January.

Guard Valerie Nainima, who leads South Carolina in scoring at

17.5 points a game, was held to a season-low four points as the

Gamecocks dropped their third straight game. La’Keisha Sutton, the

Gamecocks’ second-leading scorer, finished with just two

points.

Kentucky never trailed.

After the game, Mitchell addressed the crowd from midcourt,

praising the effort of his two outgoing seniors Franklin and Lydia

Watkins.

“I’ve had the great fortune to have been part of some great

wins, but none is as great as today’s,” Mitchell said.

Watkins – who gave birth to a son in the offseason – had 10

points, while Franklin – troubled with an injured knee throughout

her Kentucky career – added nine.

“It’s remarkable that they’re playing at the level they are,”

Mitchell said of both players.

Both seniors average a combined 15 points and 12 rebounds for

the Wildcats this season.

With the win, Kentucky is proving to be a force in the SEC.

Picked to finish 11th in the SEC in preseason polls, the

Wildcats are second in the league behind No. 5 Tennessee with two

games to go. On Thursday, Kentucky travels to face the

Volunteers.

“We’ve done things to put this team in the thick of the

conference run,” Mitchell said. “We started out not expected to

do well and it’s a credit that we did all this.”