Morris drops 35, but Cats struggle against Gamecocks


Junior guard Maci Morris fights for a basket during the game against Arkansas on Thursday, February 15, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Roman West

UK women’s basketball (13-15, 5-9) lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks (22-5, 11-3) by a score of 81-63. The Cats were led once again by guard Maci Morris, who finished the game with a career-high 35 points.

The loss likely eliminates the Cats from NCAA tournament contention and will force the Wildcats to win their two remaining games to be eligible for the WNIT.

The dramatic first quarter that saw three ties and 11 lead changes started with a referee, Lisa Mattingly, going down after getting hit in the head during the jump ball.

There was a bit of a duel between Morris and South Carolina’s national player of the year candidate, A’ja Wilson. Both players finished the quarter in double figures, with Morris scoring the final 10 points of the period for the Cats and Wilson totaling 11.

The Gamecocks had seven assists on seven field goals made in the quarter compared to zero assists for Kentucky. UK was able to stay in it by forcing six turnovers in the quarter.

After Morris’s three-pointer to take the lead at the 1:30 mark of the first period, the Wildcats failed to score again until the 4:17 mark of the second period when Tatyana Wyatt hit two free throws. Kentucky was plagued by turnovers during that stretch, committing six between points. Between the 6:27 mark of the first quarter and halftime, the two free throws from Wyatt were the only points for Kentucky outside of Morris, which allowed for a 22-8 Gamecock run.

The third quarter was much of the same struggle for the Cats as Morris was the only one able to score until the 6:24 mark. By the time Makenzie Cann scored a field goal for Kentucky, South Carolina was able to open up a 20-point lead.

Taylor Murray, who has looked nothing like her usual self over the last three games, made her only field goal of the game with 5:16 in the third quarter, the first field goal by someone other than Morris in over 19 minutes of game time.

Morris hit a jump shot with just under six to go to put her at 30 points, breaking her career high of 29 set last season against Arizona State. However, her performance wasn’t enough to bring the Cats back, as the Gamecocks stayed aggressive and only gave up 19 in the final period.

The next contest for Kentucky will be the last road game of the season when the Wildcats travel to Ole Miss to take on the Rebels on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.