UK women’s basketball defeats UNC in Paradise Jam


Senior guard Taylor Murray dribbling the ball up the court. University of Kentucky women’s basketball team defeated University of Virginia 63-51 at Rupp Arena on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Jake Maynard

Kentucky defeated UNC for the team’s seventh straight win and first team win against the Tar Heels on Saturday.. The Wildcats clinched the Paradise Jam Championship title after the win, finishing the round robin tournament with a perfect 3-0 record.

Kentucky now has three power five wins and one top 25 win and the 7-0 Wildcats will be a hot topic in the week four power rankings.

The Wildcats played from behind most of the game– UNC went on major runs in each of the first three quarters: 13-2 in the first, 10-2 in the second and 10-3 in the third. Even with massive runs by UNC, Kentucky responded again and again, never trailing by more than a dozen.

“I just thought they really hung together, they were smart today, just did a great job of responding to adversity,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said about the Cats’ late-game run.

In the end, the Wildcats’ hustle pushed them over the Tar Heels as Kentucky outscored UNC 31-15 in the final 10 minutes of play.

Freshman Rhyne Howard came to play once again– her impressive game earned her the Paradise Jam MVP award. Candace Parker won the same award in 2005 for Tennessee.  

Howard posted her second straight 20 plus game, ending with 25 points while shooting 50 percent from the field. Howard’s hustle awarded her game-high 12 rebounds, five of them came on the offensive side of play. Howards efforts were also proven by her defensive stats as she recorded three steals and a block.

Senior guard Taylor Murray also broke 20 points and scored a season-high 23 points on 53 percent shooting. Murray distributed the ball with the same efficiency. She had 10 assists and just two turnovers.  

If a season high in both points and assists weren’t enough, the 5’6 guard crashed the glass for five offensive rebounds. She ended with six rebounds in total.

Murray also led the Wildcats’ defensive effort with seven steals– Kentucky ended with 15 of them overall. The Wildcats forced 27 turnovers on UNC while the Tar Heels had averaged only 14.5 turnovers on their first six games. Kentucky scored 34 points off UNC’s turnovers.

Senior guard Maci Morris scored 18 points for the Wildcats. She shot 50 percent from three-point range, and did so on 10 shots. Morris pulled down three rebounds to add to her scoring outing.

After playing three days in a row, the Wildcats will get the next three days off to rest. Kentucky’s next game will be on Wednesday, when the Wildcats will host Morehead State in Memorial Coliseum. The game will tip-off at noon and will be available to watch on SEC Network+.