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By ASHLEY SCOBY
UK Hoops coach Matthew Mitchell has said time and time again that to be the team that he thinks they can be, Bria Goss has to perform up to her potential. Putting her on the bench might have been the best way to jumpstart that.
After a couple of less-than-stellar performances from Goss offensively – including a two-point performance at South Carolina – Mitchell sat his star player at the beginning of the Arkansas game in favor of junior Kastine Evans. Goss responded with a 17-point performance, including 16 in the second half and overtime period. Evans also went 2-3 from behind the arc in her new starting role.
The Cats’ new starting lineup carried over to the next game at Vanderbilt. Goss finished with 15 points off 5-8 shooting, and Evans chipped in 5 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.
After those two performances from each player, Mitchell was happy with how his plan worked out.
“Both players have played well both games…and that’s a credit to both of those players for embracing those roles and the changes they had to make to be successful there,” he said. “That’s a really good development for our basketball team, and we will need for that to continue…It’s just important for everybody to play to their strengths and fill their role on the team because when everybody does their part, we’re tough to beat.”
Although it has adapted throughout the course of the year, Goss’ “part” is still important for the team offensively. Without her offensive explosion in the second half of the Arkansas game, the Cats might not have pulled that win out on the road. Her energy off the bench is also key. Goss said that since her relegation to the bench at beginnings of games, she gets to cheer on her teammates more, as well as getting her “mental focus together.”
Goss’ ability to adapt to her new role on the team will be put to the test Thursday night against South Carolina. In her first game this season against the Gamecocks (a 55-50 loss for the Cats), Goss went 1-7 from the field for 2 points. That performance is not a concern for her, however, as she prepares for the rematch Thursday.
“I feel a lot better,” she said. “I mean, Kobe (Bryant) had 4 points last night and he’s one of the best scorers. You just kind of have those games, but it’s how you take it after. And I’ve taken it as we have the opportunity to play them again and on our home floor.”
The Cats will take on No. 16/14 South Carolina Thursday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum. The game is the Cats’ “Play 4Kay” game that honors former NC State coach Kay Yow, who amassed over 700 career wins in NCAA women’s basketball. The game aims to raise money for breast cancer awareness, which Yow suffered from, and fans are encouraged to wear pink to the event.