Kentucky survives scare from 13th-seeded Hampton

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Kentucky couldn't wear out Jericka Jenkins and the Hampton Lady Pirates. So, it settled for outlasting them.

Brittany Henderson scored four of her six points in overtime and the Wildcats survived a scare Saturday, beating Hampton 66-62 in the NCAA tournament.

"They really gave us a tough, tough contest today, so my hat's off to Hampton," Wildcats coach Matthew Mitchell said. "I am extremely proud of the Kentucky team for finding a way to win this game."

The Wildcats did it by turning up the defense and turning to their depth, with 11 of 12 players scoring and grabbing at least one rebound.

"As deep as we are, we all stepped up to the challenge and coach has been pushing us in practice, getting us ready for tough games like this," Keyla Snowden said. "Everybody stepped up and did their part."

The Wildcats (25-8) needed all their subs to come up big and ensure a second-round meeting with fifth-seeded North Carolina (27-8) because all their stars were stymied.

Snowden led the fourth-seeded Wildcats with 19 points but didn't score over the final 20:41 and missed a jumper at the buzzer that would have won the game in regulation. A'dia Mathies scored six points, less than half her average, and fouled out with a minute left in regulation.

SEC player of the year Victoria Dunlap added 13 points and 12 rebounds after playing just 7 first-half minutes because of foul trouble. She was 4 of 14 from the field with four uncharacteristic turnovers.

"I think it started with Hampton, their pressure defense," Dunlap said. "They were working a lot of either traps and trying to duck it on me, trying to make me pick the ball up or kick it back out to my teammates. They did a good job of making me decide or making me a little hesitant on the offensive end. That kind of got to me and I was rushing my shots."

Allowing just 51.3 points a game, the 13th-seeded Lady Pirates (25-7) were determined to put on a better showing than last season's 72-37 loss to Duke in the first round. And did they ever.

"They showed up," Dunlap said. "They came ready to play and they fought to the end."

The champs of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference held Kentucky to 14 points in the first 14 minutes and never allowed the Wildcats to pull away and make it a rout.

"Tremendous, tremendous basketball game. If you're a basketball fan you saw everything," Hampton coach David Six said. "You saw two great teams going at each other. And, unfortunately we came out on the short end of that. I'm proud of my kids. We didn't come here to be a bump on someone's schedule. We came here to play at a high level and I thought that we did that today."

Choicetta McMillian led Hampton with 19 points, Jenkins added 14 and Quanneisha Perry had 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Jenkins withstood a ferocious full-court press to play 43 minutes. She capped a 7-0 run with a 12-foot jumper that gave Hampton a 52-51 lead with 6:22 remaining.

After Dunlap's free throw tied it 4 seconds later, neither team scored again until Maegan Conwright's short, off-balance jumper gave Kentucky a 54-52 lead with 3:35 left. Mathies' layup made it a four-point game.

Jenkins' jumper made it 56-54, and Perry's pair of free throws tied it with 1:05 left.

Snowden's running jumper at the buzzer bounced off the iron, sending it to overtime.

Henderson was open underneath the basket for a quick layup and sank two free throws to make it 60-56, and Kastine Evans' 3-pointer with 1:19 left -- her only points of the game -- appeared to seal it at 65-59.

But the Lady Pirates weren't done.

McMillian hit two 3-pointers, her last one with 28 seconds left pulling Hampton to 65-62.

The Wildcats turned it over with 21 seconds left, but their defense was so tenacious that center Sherena Abercrumbia ended up with the ball and fired up a 3-pointer that was woefully short and went out of bounds with 2.8 seconds left.

"The play was obviously to get the ball to Jenkins," Six said. "They doubled her, we got the ball to Perry. She's not familiar with handling the ball out there. They just played good defense on that play. We tried to do something and they did a good job taking it away."

This would have been a big upset.

The Wildcats tied a school record with 11 SEC wins to reach back-to-back NCAA tournaments for the first time since 1982-83. Last year, the Cats advanced to the regional final with wins over Liberty, Michigan State and Nebraska.

Although the Lady Pirates had won 13 straight and were fresh off their second straight MEAC tournament title, they're winless in five trips to the NCAAs and are 1-7 all-time against SEC teams.

"We just wanted it so bad," Jenkins said. "To be the first MEAC team to make it past the first round would have been tremendous for us."