UK women fall to South Carolina to finish the season


Kentucky Wildcat guard Taylor Murray 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.

Chris Leach

Just three days after the No. 22 UK women’s basketball team beat the No. 3 team in the country, the Cats traveled to No. 7 South Carolina on Sunday afternoon looking to finish the season with another top-10 win. However, the Gamecocks offense was too efficient as the Cats fell to USC 95-87.

The Gamecocks shot 59 percent in the first half, led by the reigning SEC Player of the Year A’ja Wilson, who scored 12 first half points. South Carolina finished the first half with 48 points, the most points UK has given up in a half all season.

Wilson continued to hurt the Cats as she dropped 13 more in the second half to pickup her tenth 20-point game of the season. The Gamecocks finished the game shooting 62 percent, the highest percentage UK has given up all season.

Despite the great offensive performance from USC, the Cats were able to hang around most of the game, as they only trailed by eight at halftime.

Taylor Murray scored 13 points in the first half and Makenzie Cann scored nine more off the bench in the first half, all of which came in the second quarter.

Cann did not cool off coming out of the break as she would hit her second three of the game at the 7:15 mark in the third to trim USC’s lead to five. It did not take long for the Gamecocks to build that lead back to double-digits, as they would respond with an 8-0 run.

The Cats would again come close to the Gamecocks’ lead at the 4:48 remaining mark after Maci Morris hit a three. The Cats then only trailed by six, but that would be the closest UK would come as USC’s offense kept putting points on the scoreboard until the final buzzer sounded.

In the loss, Murray had her best game of the season. After scoring 13 points in the first half, Murray would finish with 29 points, which is a new career high. Murray made 9-14 shots, and was a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line.

The Cats finished the season with a 20-9 record (11-5 in SEC play). That is much better than many expected since all but six players left the program before the start of the season.

The 11-5 record is good enough to earn UK the fourth seed in the SEC tournament. The fourth seed comes with a double-bye in the tournament, meaning they won’t play until Friday afternoon.

The loss ends the five-game win streak UK was riding, which featured the marquee win over No. 3 Mississippi State on senior night. Despite Sunday’s loss, the Cats will have lots of momentum heading into the season as they are playing the best basketball they have played all season.