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Game Balls & Player Ratings: Morgan State

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The Bearcats used a 13-0 first-half run and several second half three-pointers to escape an upset effort from Morgan State tonight at Fifth Third Arena. Sparked by Kayla Cook's three-point surge, coach Jamelle Elliott's squad forced the Lady Bears into bad decisions down the stretch. The Bearcats have won their first six games of the season for the first time since 2001-02. A dominant second half by Morgan State led to the upset scare, but the play of three individuals yielded the Lady Bears' comeback. Cook's three-point jumper played a huge role in the 64-60 win. Tiffany Turner's first half output and rebound totals spurred the Bearcats as well. Bjonee Reaves showed enough grit in the second half to lead her team down the stretch as well. Cook, Turner and Reaves receive game ball awards tonight for the efforts and production.

Player ratings: (0-10; 10=Best)

Game Ball winners:

1. Kayla Cook, 9 -- Think wisely before playing zone defense against these Bearcats. It may have prevented big games from Dayeesha Hollins and Bjonee Reaves, but sophomore Kayla Cook was all nylon tonight. Cook scored a game-high 20 points, shooting 60 percent from three-point range. Especially in the second half, Cook had her shot going. It is safe to say that if Cook wasn't on fire from the field tonight, then the Bearcats would have dropped their first game of the season. She continues to benefit from solid point guard play, but Cook seems to be one of the streakiest shooters in the country and its paying dividends for UC.

"With them pressuring Day and Bjonee tonight, I feel like I have to step up and make a shot," Cook said. "If I miss my first shot I'm really down on myself, but if I make my first shot then I have a lot of confidence and tonight I had a lot of confidence in my shot."

"I can't say enough about Kayla's threes in the second half," Elliott said. "They really, really, really busted their zone wide open." 

2. Tiffany Turner, 9 -- Two words. Double. Double. Tiffany Turner pulled down 12 boards and added 17 points to help propel the Bearcats over the Lady Bears. Turner dominated the first half amounting 11 points by halftime. She demonstrates a great basketball IQ game-in-game-out and is very active on both ends of the floor. The underlying thing is -- she's just a better basketball player than most of her opponents. She has a solid mid-ranger jumper, touch around the rim, and a better than average driving ability. Even on a bum knee, Turner is one of the team's most consistent contributors, so when she's 100 percent, look out BIG EAST.

"I knew this was a big game for us going 6-0," Turner said. "I knew I had to do something to help my team out today. I tried to box out and I got boards today."

"Tiffany is a great shooter," Elliott said. "That played right into her hands when they played zone."

3. Bjonee Reaves, 7 -- This isn't going to be a typical recap of Reaves' game. She didn't score 20 points tonight and she wasn't lighting it up from downtown. Frankly, it doesn't matter. Reaves was the floor general tonight dishing out a game-high six assists and was one of the main reasons Cook was getting great looks from the perimeter. Reaves also finished the game with nine points and seven assists. She is the senior leader of this team and an important key to success for the Bearcats this season.

"I think it just starts with my teammates, they have a lot of confidence in me," Reaves said. "They look for me to lead them and whether I am scoring or not, I'm more than just a scorer for this team. Kayla and Tiffany had great games today and they stepped up very big. That's the difference between our team being like the past years. We are very diverse, I feel like anybody on any given night can have a twenty-point game. I am going to continue to lead whether I have 20 or whether I have five."

"When she's not making them, she's a good decoy," Elliott said. "Obviously Bjonee is smart, I like her on the floor. She makes free throws and she's a good ball handler, so even when she's not making shots she still does the things to help our team win." 

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