Walker's Career Day Leads Hoops Past Bradley
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Bradley played without its coach and left Lexington still looking for its first win against a Top 10 opponent.
Seventh-ranked Kentucky handed the Lady Braves their fourth straight loss, 117-77, on Wednesday at Memorial Coliseum. Michelle Young led Bradley with a game-high 27 points and kept the game close in the first 11 minutes. Catie O'Leary added 16 points and eight rebounds.
Braves coach Michael Brooks missed the game following the birth Tuesday of son Jase Jerald Brooks. Assistant coach Skyler Young filled in.
"Our ladies had been prepared for this mentally for a while," Young said. "We're all one unit, as coach Brooks says. It's not the head coach, it's everybody. The head coach is only as strong as his assistants."
Although Bradley was united, it couldn't keep up with the Wildcats, who reached the century mark for the third time this season. Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell wasn't surprised by Bradley's game plan.
"Bradley wanted to play at a high pace, play fast and I thought they did some nice things," Mitchell said. "We had a good handle on that. That's what they do and how they play. We anticipated a fast-paced game.
"We had some breakdowns with our press today that led to them getting into a good tempo. The entire Bradley team pushed the pace and they're a tough team to play against."
Bradley, the highest-scoring team in the Missouri Valley Conference (74.4), notched its third-highest scoring output of the season against the Wildcats.
Kentucky senior center Samarie Walker led six players in double figures with a season-high 22 points and 14 rebounds. Jennifer O'Neill followed Walker with 14 points, DeNesha Stallworth and Kastine Evans followed with 13 each and Janee Thompson and Linnae Harper finished with 10 apiece.
Bradley (2-4) pulled within 20-18 on Young's basket at 11:25. The Wildcats responded with a 31-3 run, pushing the lead to 51-21 with four minutes remaining in the first half. Kentucky connected on five 3-pointers and scored 25 unanswered points during the decisive spurt.
The Wildcats led 59-32 at the break.
Kentucky launched 26 3-point shots, making 10, while Bradley was 4 of 15 from behind the arc.
Young finished 12 of 21 from the field, while Kentucky's Walker was 8 of 13. Kelly Frings added 10 points for the Braves on 5 of 9 shooting.
The Wildcats got to the free-throw line often, going 17 of 26, compared to 7 of 9 for the Braves.
Kentucky forced 22 turnovers, including 12 in the first half. Bradley committed eight of those miscues during the Wildcats' seven-minute scoring blitz. Kentucky scored 36 points in transition with 23 of those in the first half.
"We got rattled a little bit with their pressure," Young said. "We had some turnovers, but more importantly, we had some bunnies and layups that we missed that we had to make to stop the bleeding of that run. We couldn't stop them."
During pregame warm-ups, the Braves wore "Central Illinois Strong" T-shirts in support of victims of last week's tornadoes in East Peoria, Pekin and Washington, Ill.