Poor shooting leads to Kentucky’s fourth straight loss


Junior guard Maci Morris gets ready to defend the ball during the game against California on Thursday, December 21, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky was defeated 62-52. Photo by Olivia Beach | Staff

Mohammad Ahmad

In their first meeting in series history, the UK women’s basketball team squared off against the No. 24 California Golden Bears at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday afternoon. Despite a hard-fought effort by the Cats, the Golden Bears won the game 62-52.

The Cats were looking to right the ship after a three-game losing skid against Miami (Fla), Florida Gulf Coast and No. 3 Louisville. On the other hand, the Golden Bears came in to Lexington riding a five-game win streak.

Although both teams began the game with intensity, Kentucky got off to a slow start. The Cats made only two of their first 13 shots, and the Bears were bullying the Cats down low in the paint with four blocks in the first half.

However, both teams remained deadlocked for most of the first quarter until guard Maci Morris and center Dorie Harrison combined for nine points in the last three minutes of the quarter.

Morris, the top three-point scorer in the SEC, made two threes in the half and led UK in scoring with 21 points in the game.

The Bears showed they were not slowing down, however, and opened the second quarter very strongly. They made their first six shots, with four of those being made by Bears forward Mikayla Cowling.

Cowling led the Bears in scoring in the half with 13 points.

Despite Kentucky not making any field goals in the last 8:05 of the quarter, the team’s defense kept them in the game with California as the Golden Bears had nine turnovers in the half that translated into nine points. The Bears were up 30-27 at the half.

Kentucky finished the half shooting 25.8 percent overall in contrast to California’s 55 percent.

“Other than shooting, there were other things we could have improved upon, such as communication on defense, screens, and finding shooters early enough,” Morris said.

Kentucky opened the half with a 6-0 run while California missed its first five shots of the half. The momentum was short-lived, though, as they went 1-13 in the last 7:44 of the 3rd while the Golden Bears had a 10-0 run at one point in the quarter.

Tatyana Wyatt’s three-pointer with 8:26 left in the game gave Kentucky hope, but the team soon found themselves in another shooting slump. Since that shot, Kentucky shot 27.7 percent in the field while Perina Davidson and Asha Smith combined for nine to put the game away for the Golden Bears.

Although Kentucky had its poorest shooting performance of the season with a 26.5 percent field goal percentage, UK’s head coach Matthew Mitchell felt good about his team.

“They tried hard physically, and we were fighting at the end to get the ball. We had positive minutes from some of our young players, and we just need to keep learning and improving,” Mitchell said.

The players will head home for the holidays before getting back together to take on Middle Tennessee State on the road on Dec. 28 at 7:30 p.m.