Women’s basketball regains momentum with win over Blue Raiders


Sophomore forward Tatyana Wyatt shoots from the paint during the game against Middle Tennessee on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky defeated the Blue Raiders 72-55. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Mohammad Ahmad

Last Sunday, the no. 18 ranked UK women’s basketball team watched its undefeated record disappear following a tight road loss to in-state rival Louisville Cardinals.

Nonetheless, Saturday’s home win over the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders got the Cats back onto their winning feet.

“That entire week [following Sunday], they were trying to balance themselves to get better as a team,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said following the win. “Last week was a tough week and really proud of the way they played today.”

Louisville only had six turnovers against the Cats and shot 56.4 percent from the field. The Cards effort coupled that with a 32-28 advantage in rebounding to help make the difference in their win.

Saturday, however, the Cats flipped the script.

UK entered Saturday’s contest averaging 24.8 forced turnovers per game. The Blue Raiders had 18 turnovers Saturday and were limited to shooting 31 percent from the field in the third quarter.

While MTSU scoring stars Alex Johnson and A’Queen Hayes combined for 40 points– all other players scored nine points or less.

“It wasn’t easy, but we knew that we needed to bounce back from that tough loss,” Keke McKinney said. “First five minutes was very important for us and I feel like we came out strong.”

In those five minutes, the Cats had seven unanswered points. UK led 9-2 at one point and shot 67 percent from the field in those first five minutes. The second quarter was even more productive as the Cats erupted on a 13-0 run in the last four minutes of the quarter.

“We were just executing really well, people were getting open shots and we were hitting them. Anytime we can do that, it’s a good sign,” UK guard Maci Morris said. “We made the team get in a hurry and play at a faster pace than what they wanted.”

Familiar names like McKinney, Morris, Tatyana Wyatt, Rhyne Howard and Taylor Murray each scored in the first quarter. But, another name rung out as well: Blair Green.

Green, a freshman, drained two three-pointers in the first quarter and was 3-3 behind the arc Saturday. She was one of four double-digit scorers, along with Morris, McKinney and Murray, and finished the game with 11 points.

How many three-pointers did she have this season entering Saturday? Three.

“Just getting back in the gym and forgetting about the previous games, while pushing forward, that’s what helps build my confidence.” Green said.

Now that UK students are out on winter break, that means that the athletes can focus more on practicing and getter better. McKinney agrees.

“It gives us more time to focus on basketball and not have to worry about school. You don’t have to juggle both school and basketball,” McKinney said.

UK, now 10-1, will face Western Carolina University at Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday, Dec. 18th at 7 p.m.