Cats suffer early, unable to complete comeback over Ohio State


Kentucky Wildcat guard Makayla Epps shoots a layup during the first quarter of the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Thursday, February 23, 2017 at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Chase Campbell

The UK women’s basketball team saw their season come to an abrupt end as they lost against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the NCAA tournament, 82-68.

The Cats season ended on their home court, as the Epps era ends in Lexington.

The score wasn’t entirely representative of the level of competition, however.

In the first half, Ohio State jumped out to an early lead, hitting a three-pointer in the first ten seconds after tipoff. They would extend their lead to eight during the first quarter, but UK rallied back to bring the lead within four by the end of the first quarter, due to a dynamic performance by Evelyn Akhator, where she grabbed six rebounds and put up six points.

In the second quarter, Kelsey Mitchell and the Buckeyes were not to be denied, as they outscored the Cats by 11, with Mitchell scoring nine of those 26 second quarter points.

UK could not get anything going from the floor, as they shot 25 percent from the floor. At this point, they had only made one of their eight attempts from deep, while Ohio State scored on 35.3 percent of their shots from behind the arc.

The third quarter, however, belonged to the Wildcats. After going down by 19, their biggest deficit of the game, the Cats outscored the Buckeyes 27-11, fighting to bring the Ohio State lead back to just three points early in the fourth quarter.

The crowd was electric as the Cats couldn’t seem to miss, draining shot after shot. Maci Morris and Makayla Epps were key during the run, both finishing in double figures.

During this run, Evelyn Akhator also broke the UK NCAA Tournament record for rebounds, finishing with 23 boards over the previous record of 14. This performance also set a personal record, which was previously 18.

After the Cats brought the lead to within one, the Buckeyes buckled down defensively and forced UK to shoot three pointers, a shot they only converted at an 18 percent clip all game.

While keeping the Cats out of the lane, Ohio State took the fourth quarter for their own and used an 8-0 run to fuel them to a 14-point win, as the Cats fell short of what would have been a tie for the largest comeback in school history, and what would have been alone as the largest comeback in the Matthew Mitchell era.

Seniors Epps and Akhator combined for 35 of the team’s 68 points, playing their final games with large performances.