UK women’s depth shines in blowout win over Western Carolina


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

Prior to UK’s matchup Tuesday night against the Western Carolina Catamounts at Memorial Coliseum, the Cats had no more than four double-digit scorers in a game this season.

On Tuesday night, the Cats had six.

Tatyana Wyatt, Rhyne Howard, Maci Morris, Jaida Roper, Amanda Paschal and Taylor Murray all crossed the ten-point threshold against the Catamounts. Those six players and four other scorers helped push the Cats to their largest margin of victory this season in their 99-39 blowout. 

“We like to keep the rotation as deep as possible. There were lots of opportunities for people to play, but we would love for a deep roster who gives you the ability to push pace,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said after the game.

Rhyne Howard, UK’s leading scorer this season, led the way with 18 points and a team-high eight rebounds Tuesday night. It was her sixth time leading the team in scoring this season. She also flirted with what would have been her seventh double-double this season.

Wyatt had a breakout game with 16 points, doubling her previous season high of eight. She also shot 80 percent from the field (8-10) in the effort. Though she has been banged up with foot issues lately, she said that indicates she’s shown signs of “progress and growth.”

“I’ve been working every day after practice with coach Amber [Smith], Blair [Green] and KeKe [McKinney]. I feel fine and I’m still working through it, so it’s a not a setback, it’s just progress,” Wyatt said.

Morris had 13 points and Murray had 11. Murray shot a perfect 4-4 from the field and needs only 10 more points to tie Karen Mosley for 26th most all-time by a Wildcat.

Paschal and Roper came off the bench to score 12 and 11 points, respectively. Paschal’s 11 points are her new season high. Roper has now scored 10 or more points in four games this season. Her seven assists tied with Murray for the team lead in assists.

“It’s really important for us [bench players] coming out and contributing. We relieve pressure from the starters, so we give that extra spark. Bench players have been stepping up,” Roper said.

In every UK win this season, their bench has outscored their opponent’s bench.

“We’ve had some great contributions from our bench, it’s so important for those players to contribute. Players are coming early and staying late during practice and that’s really starting to show,” Mitchell said.

With SEC play rapidly approaching, Mitchell discussed the implications of non-conference play toward team discipline.

“You certainly play some games like tonight where we had more talent and depth and being a heavy favorite, but those are opportunities where you have to hold yourself to a higher standard, so there’s value in that,” Mitchell said.

UK will play two more non-conference matchups before it plays its first SEC game this season on January 3rd against Vanderbilt. The Cats’ next game is this Friday, Dec. 21st against in-state rival Murray State at Memorial Coliseum at noon.