Cats fall in overtime to Sun Devils


Guard Maci Morris of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots a jumper 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

Over 13,000 fans came out to Rupp Arena Sunday afternoon for the UK women’s basketball ‘Pack the House’ game against Arizona State, but those fans would leave disappointed as they watched their Cats fall to the Sun Devils 73-71 in overtime.

After starting the season 3-0, the Cats are now 7-3 and have lost two of their last three games.

Early on, it looked like UK had control of the game, limiting Arizona State to 31 percent shooting in the first half in route to a seven-point halftime lead.

However, all the momentum UK’s defense built up vanished at the start of the second half when Arizona State opened with a 16-7 run to get their first lead since the five-minute mark in the first quarter.

“It was just a totally different team that came out after halftime,” head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “I don’t know if we were relaxed or what happened.”

Arizona State would go on another big run later on, scoring eight unanswered points to take a two-point lead with 4:45 left in the game. During that run, UK committed five costly turnovers.

The Cats would claw back and with a minute to go, Maci Morris, who scored a career high 29 points, hit a layup to tie the game. The Cats had a chance to win the game with a wide-open three from Makenzie Cann at the buzzer, but the shot was short, forcing overtime.

In overtime, both teams did not give their opponent an inch, as there was six times where the score remained tied. Taylor Murray had a chance to break the tie with 39 seconds left following an and-one, but she would miss the free throw.

On Arizona State’s next possession, Reili Richardson’s shot rimmed out, but the Sun Devils grabbed the offensive rebound. And their star player Sophie Brunner, hit a contested jumper to give Arizona State a two-point lead with four seconds remaining.

“That young lady [Brunner] has hit more end-of-the-game shots herself in her career than probably all of my other players I’ve coached in 20 years in ASU combined,” Arizona State head coach Charlie Turner Thorne said. “There is no one else I’d rather have the ball in her hands.”

Makayla Epps got a shot up at the buzzer, but she was double-teamed and her shot was left short.

One thing that was obvious was the lack of intensity in the second half from UK, as the Cats were outscored 49-40 after having a seven-point lead at halftime. The Cats will need to stay focused for all 40 minutes of the game if they hope to defeat some of the daunting opponents that lie ahead in their schedule.