UK women’s basketball notches sixth win of the season


Freshman guard Rhyne Howard puts up a midrange shot during the game against Virginia on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 63 to 51. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Jake Maynard

The Kentucky women’s basketball team defeated UCLA today in the Virgin Islands in an overtime thriller. The Wildcats won by one point to improve their record to 6-0.

This game was the Wildcats’ second straight upset ESPN gave UCLA a 61.3 percent chance of winning the game.

The first half worked in Kentucky’s favor as the Wildcats outscored the Bruins 41-31. UCLA won the third quarter 14-6 to put the game into contention while the fourth quarter and overtime were a back-and-forth battle that ended in a Wildcats free throw from freshman standout Rhyne Howard to win the game.

“She missed the first one and she got hit real hard. She was in a lot of pain and I don’t know how she did it. She’s a real talented player and I’m proud of her,” Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell said after the win. “She’s got to go to work on her free throws, she’s got to become… she’s a good free-throw shooter, but she struggled some here, but made the one that counted, the one that put us over the top.”

Howard, a starter for the Wildcats, had 20 points— the second time she has scored 20 or more in her first six games as a Wildcat. She has topped 10 points in each of these games and the UCLA win makes for the third time she has led UK in scoring.

Howard had seven rebounds, three of them from the offensive board, and stole the ball a career high six times. The freshman also had a block to round out her sound defensive performance.

Seniors Maci Morris and Taylor Murray combined for 33 points. Morris struggled shooting— she shot 5-21 but ended with 17 points and seven rebounds.  

Murray was an important factor for the Cats as she shot 5-10 from the field, made her only three-pointer and all five of her free throws. Murray also had three rebounds and dished out a game-high three assists.

Kentucky’s defense stood out the most in the win over the Bruins as the Wildcats forced 19 turnovers. Kentucky stole the ball 12 times; half of those steals came from Howard’s spectacular performance. The Wildcats defended the wing well, only allowing the Bruins to shoot 2-8 from behind the three-point line.  

The Wildcats shot just 37 percent and were out-rebounded 34-46. Kentucky was helped by the Bruins inefficient free throw shooting, going for a combined 12-28 (49.2 percent).

The win marks UK’s second win in the Paradise Jam Tournament. The Wildcats will play UNC Saturday at 1:00 for a chance to clinch the title.

“…From what little I watched live yesterday, I don’t know really anything about North Carolina, I haven’t looked at them yet, but watching them yesterday, I don’t know if they’re as relentless on the offensive glass,” Mitchell said of Saturday’s matchup. “They’re big kids, Jannelle (Bailey) is as big and powerful as anybody in the country, so that’ll be a problem for us. But, we just have to figure it out. We’ll get a game plan together and just try to focus more on Kentucky and see what we can do.”