UK Hoops tops LSU, gets Florida in Quarterfinals


Junior guard Makayla Epps (25) shoots a layup 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

Caitlin Schwartz

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The No. 13 UK Hoops held off LSU (10-21, 3-13), 79-71 on Thursday to advance to the Quarterfinals in the women’s Southeastern Conference tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.

UK (22-6, 10-6) is the fifth seed in the conference and will be facing fourth-seeded and No. 25-ranked Florida in the Quarterfinals on Friday.

The Cats took control early in the game, leading 25-14 at the end of the first quarter after going on a 13-0 run. UK’s Makayla Epps scored 14 points just in the first half.

The last time Epps faced LSU she hit only two-of-nine shots from the floor and scored her lowest total of the season with five points. She made up for that during this game, ending with 17 points.

LSU cut the lead in the second quarter to single digits with a jumper by Alexis Hyder. Hyder led the Tigers with 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. UK quickly responded and the lead was in double digits for the rest of the half. The Cats led 41-29 at the break.

Hyder was helped by teammate Akila Bethel, who put up 17 points and posted 10 rebounds. The Tiger’s Rina Hill had 13 points and Shanice Norton added 10.

UK’s Janee Thompson matched Epps with 17 points and added four rebounds and six assists. Evelyn Akhator had 15 points and 13 rebounds, posting her 11th double-double of the season.

LSU outscored the Cats 29-21 in the fourth quarter, but got no closer than the final score.

Friday will mark the third-round game, where UK has a chance at redemption when they play Florida –  a team that beat UK in late January earlier this season. UK turned the ball over a season-high 30 times against Florida while only losing by six points in Gainesville.

UK and Florida will take the court at 2:30 p.m.