Monday, March 22, 2010
UK defeats MSU in Freedom Hall 70-52
Victoria Dunlap dropped 21 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in the 70-52 UK win. Not bad for someone who wasn't feeling very well. She transfered her illness to Michigan State...who heads home.
It was supposed to be the marquee matchup in the middle. 6'1" Dunlap vs. 6'9" Allyssa DeHaan. The defensive player of the year in the Big Ten against the Cats leading scorer for the season. Michigan State using a size advantage to overcome a quick and ball-hawking UK pressure defense.
It never materialized. Even with Dunlap feeling ill this morning when she woke up, she took the fight to the Spartans and held DeHaan to 4 points and 1 rebound in 19 minutes of play for the tall senior. Back up center Lauren Aitch actually did better for the Spartans but in the end it was too much UK defense, too little Spartan shooting accuracy and a going away win for UK.
Give MSU credit for fighting early, leading by 5 at one point in the first half and staying within four points of UK at halftime. The Cats used an 8-0 run late in the first twenty minutes, though....in front of a pro-UK crowd of 3361 to take the lead for good at 30-28 on a Lydia Watkins layup. The Cats took a 35-31 lead to the locker room and gradually pulled away from MSU in the second half, leading by 20 at one point before finally advancing to the Sweet Sixteen by 18.
Dunlap wasn't alone in securing the Cats' victory. Guard Keyla Snowden added 10 points and A'dia Mathies contributed eight points after sitting the final 7:38 of the first half because of foul trouble. UK used their pressure defense and aggressive rebounding to limit MSU to 34.5% shooting for the game. The Cats dominated the taller Spartans inside with a 36-18 scoring advantage in the paint and a 40-37 edge in rebounding. UK created 14 steals against the Spartans and turned the ball over only 11 times.
For Dunlap, a celebratory Sprite and round of soda crackers. For Freedom Hall, a final look at women's basketball for the foreseeable future. And for UK, a trip to Kansas City on Sunday to face #1 seed Nebraska in the regionals. Not much Cardinal red or Spartan green in the venerable old Hall this evening, but a rowdy blue clad crowd rattled the rafters as their undersized but overacheiving Lady Kats live to play another day. Ironic that the last fight song of the season in Freedom Hall was the UK pep band (much better behaved this evening) playing "On, On UK" and that the Wildcats' cheerleaders and players serenaded the crowd with "My Old Kentucky Home" while standing on the Denny Crum signature on the court.
A special thank you to the NCAA and the kind and helpful organizers and Cardinal staff in Freedom Hall who made it possible and quite enjoyable for CARDINAL COUPLE to report on the event.
Written by Paul