UK women fall in Memorial Coliseum for the first time this season


Junior guard Makayla Epps (25) shoots the ball over a defender during the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Sunday, February 21, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 77-63. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Chris Leach

Just three days ago, the UK women’s basketball team blew a 12-point lead in the final two minutes of the game against Missouri, but managed to hold on to win by two. Sunday versus Texas A&M, the Cats had another fourth quarter collapse, but this time they did not have a huge lead to fall back on, resulting in the Cats falling to the Aggies 77-68. 

Going into the final quarter, the Cats were only down by one after leading most of the first half. Through three quarters, there was five times where the score was tied, and nine lead changes.

The Cats started the fourth quarter making their first three shots and taking a three-point lead, but with 5:23 left and the game tied, the Aggies made things difficult for UK by going on a 7-0 run. Makayla Epps, who finished with 20 points, would respond with back-to-back buckets to make it a three-point game with 1:45 remaining. 

Then things started to go south for the Cats with 1:13 remaining. With the Aggies still holding a three-point lead, Texas A&M closed the game on a 6-0 run, starting with an off-balance jump shot from Curtyce Knox that hurt the confidence of the Cats.

“It’s just hard to see them hit a big shot, then you’re down three, then she [Knox] hits a crazy shot and you’re down more,” Epps said. “It’s just hard and something we got to keep working on.”

Following Knox’s circus shot, Maci Morris missed a three, forcing Taylor Murray to intentionally foul Knox, who scored a career-high 26 points.

Knox made her first free throw but missed her second, but Anriel Howard of Texas A&M got the offensive rebound, got fouled, and hit two free throws herself, increasing the Aggies lead to eight with 28 seconds left, virtually sealing the game.

The offensive rebound from Howard was just one of the many nails in the Cats’ coffin, as the Cats gave up 15 offensive rebounds, resulting in 22 second chance points for the Aggies. Texas A&M finished ahead of UK in the rebounding department 38-26.

“Last year they killed us on the boards, so that was a very strong point of emphasis for this game,” said Khaalia Hillsman, who finished with a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds. 

The Cats now fall to 10-6 this season, including 1-2 in Conference play. The Cats have now lost three of their last four games, and the struggles can be attributed to confidence issues.

 “What’s playing against us, that we got to try to correct, is that when something doesn’t go our way we hang our head,” Matthew Mitchell said. “We’re going to get beat when we behave that way.” 

The Cats will look to gain some confidence when they try to win their first road game of the season on Jan. 12 at Alabama. Alabama is 2-1 in conference play after beating Missouri on the road. Tipoff in Alabama is scheduled for 8 p.m.