UK Hoops’ comeback falls flat on Senior Night

Senior Carly Ormerod positions for a layup around a Georgia defend while fellow senior Jenn’e Jackson looks on.  Photo by Kristin Sherrard | Staff

Senior Carly Ormerod positions for a layup around a Georgia defend while fellow senior Jenn’e Jackson looks on. Photo by Kristin Sherrard | Staff

While saying goodbye to seniors Eleia Roddy, Jenn’e Jackson, and Carly Ormerod on Senior Night at Memorial Coliseum, the same old faces weren’t the only familiar sights for Cat fans.

The UK women’s basketball team (14-14, 4-9 Southeastern Conference) shot an SEC-low 31.3 percent from the field before falling to the Lady Bulldogs (15-12, 6-7 SEC), 61-57. It was the seventh loss by less than 10 points in the SEC for the Cats, who have struggled all season to produce offense consistently.

Georgia snapped a five-game losing streak in the victory, the longest of Georgia head coach Andy Landers’ career. It also assured the Bulldogs of a winning season, making them eligible for postseason play. The Cats will have to win on Sunday at South Carolina to make themselves eligible for the postseason, or grab a pair of wins in the SEC tournament.

After the game, UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said he thought his team never played with the same energy as Georgia.

“We never led in the game, never came out with any type of enthusiasm that matched Georgia, and Georgia just played a really, really strong defensive game,” Mitchell said. “I’m disappointed for the 5,000 people or so that came out and watched us play tonight that we couldn’t give them any better effort for that. Just really, really disappointing. It’s probably the most disappointing effort that I’ve seen from our team this season.”

The Cats fell behind by 14 in the first half, but battled back to cut Georgia’s lead to one with 5:34 to go in the game. Mitchell took responsibility for his team’s lack of hustle after the game, saying it was his fault for not preparing them.

Mitchell did praise Ormerod for her hard play in her final regular-season game in Memorial Coliseum. Ormerod, who collected just her second career double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, said she didn’t think Senior Night was a distraction for the team.

“That’s just an excuse,” Ormerod said. “We were pumped up in this game, we needed to win this game, and we just didn’t make it happen in the first half. That’s where we lost the game — in the first half.”

Senior Carly Ormerod hugs her family during Senior Night festivities before the Cats’ 61-57 loss to Georgia on Thursday. Ormerod recorded a double-double in the losing effort, the second of her career. Photo by Kristin Sherrard | Staff

Sophomore forward Victoria Dunlap led UK with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Roddy registered nine points and eight rebounds but shot just 2-of-10 from the field before fouling out with 41 seconds to go.

Sophomore guard Ashley Houts of Georgia scored a career-high 26 points, including 14 of her team’s last 19 points as the Bulldogs staved off repeated comeback attempts by the Cats.

Ormerod said she could pinpoint several opportunities the Cats had to regain the lead, but were just unable to overcome their bad start.

“The game doesn’t come down to one play. We could have pulled it out. We should have pulled it out, even though we played terrible. We got to start learning how to play 40 minutes,” she said.

Even with just one regular season game to go, Ormerod said she believes the team can still turn it around after Senior Night went sour.

“The season’s not even close to being over.”