No. 20 Kentucky downs La Salle 74-52 in Lexington


Kentucky Wildcats center Olivia Owens (00) boxes out during a free throw during the UK vs. Presbyterian College women’s basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 81-53. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Jaron Centers

No. 20 Kentucky women’s basketball improved to 4-1 on the season following their 74-52 victory over La Salle on Saturday. 

UK’s Dre’una Edwards finished with a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. La Salle’s Claire Jacobs led the Explorers with 10 points and three rebounds. 

Edwards’ big performance headlined a balanced offensive attack from Kentucky, as four Wildcats finished with double-figures in the scoring column. Tonight’s official scoring totals for the Cats are as follows:

Dre’una Edwards: 22 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks

Robyn Benton: 17 points, 7 rebounds

Rhyne Howard: 16 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists

Jada Walker: 12 points, 4 assists

The first quarter of play proved efficient for the Cats, shooting 11-18 from the field and 50 percent from three-point range. The defensive intensity from UK disrupted the Explorers, forcing six turnovers alone in the first 10 minutes of action. 

Rhyne Howard led all scorers with seven points in just six minutes of play. Kentucky’s 7-0 run in the last 30 seconds of the first gave the Cats a 27-14 lead. 

In the second quarter, the Cats saw a more evenly distributed scoring effort, as Howard, Edwards, Benton and Walker all had six or more points going into halftime. UK ended the half shooting 43.8 percent on 32 attempts.

 Howard once again ended the half leading the way with 12 points and two rebounds. Edwards finished the first 20 minutes perfect from the field and the free-throw line, putting up eight points in total. 

Turnovers put La Salle out of reach for the majority of the half, committing 12 total in the first two quarters. UK’s impressive defensive effort put the Cats up 39-28 at halftime. 

The third quarter saw Edwards take over, scoring 10 points and snagging four rebounds in just 10 minutes of play. However, the Cats failed to score a field goal in the last three minutes, giving La Salle a sliver of opportunity for a comeback. The Explorers cut UK’s lead to single digits going into the final quarter of action, trailing 47-56. 

La Salle’s hope was short-lived, as the Cats outscored the Explorers 18-5 in the final 10 minutes of play. 

17 total turnovers for La Salle proved fatal for any comeback attempt in the end. UK closed a big defensive night with a final score of 74-52. 

UK Head coach Kyra Elzy commended her squad’s defensive efforts after the game. 

“I thought we took a step forward defensively tonight,” Elzy said. “There were times in the game we got some shot clock violation, we got our hands on some balls, we had some great help. Now obviously we can continue to grow but I thought we took a step forward in the last couple of weeks defensively.”

After Edwards’ big scoring night, she credited her performance to the offseason training this team has put in. 

“I just put in a lot of work in the offseason with the help of Elzy and my teammates and Coach Lee. They’ve all been pushing me so I was prepared,” Edwards said.

The Cats’ will have a tall task next week as they prepare to host West Virginia (4-1) in their first big home test of the season. That game will tip-off at 7 p.m and will be available to watch on the SEC Network+.