Kentucky will have to get through at least the next month without its best on-ball defender and most veteran leader.
Senior guard Bria Goss will miss between four and six weeks with a broken left thumb, which she sustained at a shoot around on Sunday morning.
The 5-foot-10 guard from Indianapolis tried to play through the injury on Sunday versus Belmont, but was only able to go three minutes.
Goss, who averages 7.4 points and 3.1 rebounds a game, hasn’t missed a game in her Kentucky career, playing in 117 games with 102 starters, including 17 in a row.
“We are thankful Bria’s injury was not season-ending,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said in a release on Monday night. “That would have been quite a blow.
“We hate (that) Bria is out but we all need to work hard so when she returns, we are stronger than ever.”
No. 8 Kentucky heads to No. 13 Duke on Monday and has a road game at Alabama at the start of the season. The Cats also have home games against Tennessee State, Ole Miss and Auburn during the span Goss is expected to be out.
The four-week timeline would put Goss close to a return when the Cats travel to top-ranked South Carolina on Jan. 11.
The weightiest portion of UK’s Southeastern Conference schedule, including games against No. 11 Tennessee, No. 15 Georgia, No. 21 Mississippi State and No. 4 Texas A&M, is later in the season.
Goss started the season slow in the scoring column before coming on in the four games before the injury, averaging 11.5 points a game in those contests.
But as she noted after her season-best 16-point performance against Northern Kentucky recently, she tries to focus on doing more than just score.
“There are still a lot of things I am doing off the court, so me not being the leading scorer did not discourage me because I do a lot of the things that the stats don’t show,” Goss said. “Yes, it was nice to be on the board tonight, but my main focus is a Kentucky win.”
For the past three years, Goss has been responsible for taking on the opposing team’s top player.
Those duties likely will fall by committee on players like Janee Thompson and Linnae Harper, who have a team-best 18 steals apiece so far this season.
He hopes every UK player can work together to make up for the loss of Goss.
“For our team, this is a great opportunity to develop in the areas of defensive energy, offensive efficiency and leadership, all things that Bria consistently brings,” Mitchell said.
“In her absence, our players will have to find ways to strengthen themselves in these critical areas to make up for what we lose with Bria on the sidelines.”