UK women fall to Tennessee in conference opener


Guard Makayla Epps of the Kentucky Wildcats is dejected during the NCAA women’s basketball tournament Sweet 16 game against the Washington Huskies at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY on Friday, March 25, 2016. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

Chris Leach

The UK women’s basketball team faced many challenges in its first conference game of the season, and those challenges were too much to overcome as the Cats lost to the Tennessee Lady Vols 72-65.

One big challenge the Cats struggled to overcome was their lack of depth.

The Cats only had nine active players at hand today, two of which were overcoming injuries. This meant that four of the Cats’ starters had to play 32 or more minutes.

On top of being shorthanded, the Cats’ two best post players would get into foul trouble early. Evelyn Akhator picked two fouls in the first two minutes of the game, and Alyssa Rice picked up her second foul at the 7:54 mark in the second quarter.

With the lack of depth in the post, Tennessee took advantage and beat up the Cats in the paint, out rebounding UK 24-18, and outscoring UK 26-16 in the paint before halftime.

To make matters worse, the Cats’ offense had a hard time finding rhythm and only shot 34 percent in the first half. Despite things not going well for the Cats, they only trailed by seven points at the half.

In the second half the Cats played much better, but did little to no damage trimming Tennessee’s lead.

The Cats kept batting though and would come within striking distance after cutting Tennessee’s lead to four with 1:30 left. And the Cats had some chances to trim Tennessee’s lead even smaller, but fatigue led to missed shots, ultimately leading to their downfall.

Taylor Murray, played all but two minutes in the game, and would end up scoring a career high 23 points off 8-11 shooting. Murray also grabbed six rebounds.

Despite early foul trouble, Akhator would have a productive second and finish with her eighth double-double of the season. Akhator now ranks fifth in Kentucky history on the double-double career list.

The Cats have now dropped the last two games, and will look to correct the ship on Jan. 5 when they face the Missouri Tigers. Mizzou also started conference play today and got an 18-point victory over Georgia.

The Cats will host Mizzou at Memorial Coliseum and tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.