UK Hoops dominated in SEC Tournament by No. 3 South Carolina

Guard Makayla Epps led the Cats with 16 points and seven rebounds. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Caitlin Schwartz

Although UK played three games in three days, it couldn’t make it to three wins in a row. The loss came to a team that ran its record to 30-1 on the season.  

The No. 13 UK women’s basketball team took a brutal 30-point loss to No. 3 South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference Semi-Final Saturday afternoon.

“Something about this rivalry gets under our skin,” South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson said. “Just knowing it was Kentucky helped us out.”

South Carolina was not shy about showing why it is ranked number three, as they hit eight out of the first 11 shots, leading 18-10 early in the game. The Gamecocks took that lead to double digits, 20-10, with 3:29 to go in the first quarter.

Wilson finished with 18 points, six rebounds and four blocks for the Gamecocks. Teammate Tiffany Mitchell led USC with 20 points while Alaina Coates put up a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. 

South Carolina cooled off in the second quarter as UK cut the lead to four points, 35-31. The only lead was at the very beginning of the game when UK’s Maci Morris hit a three-pointer to lead 3-2. Morris ended the game with seven points and six rebounds.

UK shot well going 44.6 percent from the floor but it wasn’t enough to overcome South Carolina’s 52.9 percent from the floor.

“If we’d tried shooting with our eyes closed in this game,” USC’s Mitchell said. “They might’ve gone in.”

South Carolina shot an impressive 12-of-22 (55 percent) from three-point range.

“It was like they couldn’t miss,” UK’s Makayla Epps said. “You have to give them credit for shooting the ball well tonight.”

Despite Epps struggling with a minor knee injury, she still managed to lead the Cats in scoring with 16 points and in rebounds with seven. Alexis Jennings helped with 10 points and bringing down six rebounds. While the duo of Evelyn Akhator and Batouly Camara both went for eight points for the Cats.

The Cats looked like they had completely run out of gas in the last quarter as they trailed 63-43. South Carolina pulled out its starters with five minutes to go in the game. USC brought the score to 93-63 when the game ended.

UK head coach Matthew Mitchell had good things to say after the tough loss and didn’t seem to take it too harshly.

“I’m really proud of our team. I really, really love our team,” Mitchell said. “I don’t’ see how we wouldn’t be a top four seed in NCAA Tournament with our résumé.”