Akhator’s big day leads UK women to first road win of the season


Senior forward Evelyn Akhator dribbles along the baseline during the game against Union on Thursday, November 3, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

Chris Leach

After losing two of its first three Southeastern Conference games, UK women’s basketball needed a big win to help raise its confidence and turn its season around. Thursday night at Alabama, the Cats got a big win, winning their first road game of the season while taking down Alabama 71-54.

And while Alabama might not be the biggest, or scariest name in SEC women’s basketball, the way the Cats beat the Crimson Tide is what made the win a sweet one.

UK out-rebounded Alabama 37-33 and outscored the Tide 34-30 in the paint. In UK’s six losses this season, the Cats were either out-rebounded, or outscored in the paint five times. The Tide were 14th in the country in rebounding margin before Thursday’s game, and to see the Cats out-battle Alabama in the paint is a promising sign that things might be looking up for the Cats.  

Evelyn Akhator led the way for the Cats in the post, as Akhator scored a career high 29 points, shooting 12-14 from the floor. Akhator also tied her season-high in rebounded with 15 boards, giving her her ninth double-double of the season.

In what was a 17-point victory for the Cats, much of the game was competitive until UK opened up the score in the fourth quarter.

The Cats got off to a hot start, shooting 60 percent in the first quarter and holding Alabama to single-digit points until 7:22 left in the first half. Despite the good start, UK only took a three-point lead into halftime.

Coming out of halftime, the Cats were able to build that lead back up to 10, until the Tide would comeback again and trim the lead down to four, thanks to strong play from Shaquera Wade. Wade scored a career high 24 points off 11-13 shooting, including knocking down two threes.

Unfortunately for the Tide, Wade did not have much support as the rest of her teammates shot just 22 percent from the field. The Cats were able to slow down Wade, and get their offense going in the fourth to open up a double-digit lead and cruise to the Cats’ second SEC victory of the year.

With the win, the Cats improve their record to 11-6, including 2-2 in conference play. The 17-point win was the largest margin of victory for UK since Dec. 18, when it beat Radford by 26 points.

The Cats will now return home to Memorial Coliseum to take on the Georgia Bulldogs on Jan. 15. The Cats won last season’s lone game against Georgia, a nine-point victory in Georgia.