No. 7 Kentucky 84, No. 18 Dayton 70
Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell wasn’t sure what he would get
out of A’dia Mathies.
The two-time SEC player of the year, like most of the Wildcats,
was sick before the game – bitten by a flu bug that was sweeping
through the team.
Mathies shook off the stomach virus to put up one of the best
performances in school history. She matched her career high with 34
points to lead the second-seeded Wildcats to an 84-70 win over
Dayton in the second round of the women’s NCAA tournament.
”She looked really ill before the game and didn’t look
energized like `I’m going to have this kind of performance.’ She
felt terrible. It was a definite Michael Jordanesque. An
The Wildcats (29-5) will face Delaware in the semifinals of the
Bridgeport Regional on Saturday.
”It’s very exciting especially since it’s a lot of people’s
first Sweet 16,” said DeNesha Stallworth, who added 14 poitns for
Kentucky. ”We don’t want to stop here. We still have a lot of
basketball to play.”
It took an incredible effort from Mathies to get there.
With Kentucky clinging to a 46-44 advantage early in the second
half, Mathies scored 10 points during a 16-3 run to help the
Wildcats take control of the game.
She hit two 3-pointers, including one to cap the burst and make
it 62-47. Mathies was coming off the worst game of her career where
she didn’t hit a field goal in the first round win over Navy. She
made 13 of 17 against Dayton.
”I just went out there and played as hard as I could,” Mathies
said. ”I believe on the first possesion I didn’t know how I’d make
it through this. I didn’t want my season to end. Everybody gave
their all and came with their victory.”
Andrea Hoover scored 22 points to lead the Flyers (28-3), who
got no closer than eight the rest of the way to end the best season
in school history.
One of the best seasons for Kentucky will continue in
Bridgeport. The Wildcats have the most wins in school history and
have reached the regional semifinals for the third time in the past
Mitchell is building a tradition at a school rich in men’s
”We have the goal of becoming the best program in the
country,” he said. ”We have a lot of work to do, but we are
making a lot of progress.”
Dayton got off to a strong start, hitting its first seven shots
and were tied 14-14 with Kentucky before the Wildcats turned up
their pressure. They went on a 12-0 run over the next 5 minutes to
take a 26-14 advantage. Mathies hit two 3-pointers during the
burst. The Flyers had four turnovers in that stretch.
”(Mathies) is a great player,” Dayton coach Jim Jabir said.
”The things she can do with the basketball. She can shoot the 3.
That one shot where she drove and leaned in on our post and looked
like Michael Jordan two feet lower. There was nothing more we could
have done there.”
Kentucky led 38-22 with 3:12 left and looked like they were
about to blow the game open but went cold from the field and
started fouling Dayton.
The Flyers closed the half on a 9-2 run hitting all six free
throws they attempted to trail 40-31 at the break.
Hoover hit a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left to cap the burst. It
was the Flyers first 3 of the game. They hit 10 in the
opening-round 96-90 double-overtime win over St. John’s.
Dayton kept it going to start the second half and closed to
46-44. The Flyers only had one turnover during their run to bridge
the halves after committing 14 in first 15 minutes.
Unfortunately the Wildcats’ ”40 minutes of dread” wore down
Dayton as the Flyers had five turnovers during Kentucky’s burst
that blew open the game.
The loss ended a spectacular season for Dayton. The Flyers won
an NCAA tournament game for the second time in school history. They
also won their first Atlantic 10 regular-season title before
falling to Saint Joseph’s in the conference tournament semifinals.
The team also surpassed the school record for wins.
Not bad for a squad that lost a lot to graduation last year and
has the sixth youngest roster in the country.
”I’m very, very proud. I’ve never been 28-3 before,” Jabir
said. ”We’re trying to build our program like Butler’s men’s
program where we can beat anybody on any given day and still be the
University of Dayton.”
Follow Doug Feinberg on Twitter at