UK Hoops unable to break South Carolina’s home winning streak


Guard Makayla Epps was struggling with a minor knee injury, but led the Cats in scoring and rebounds against South Carolina. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff 

Caitlin Schwartz

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The No. 18 UK women’s basketball team suffered its sixth loss of the season as No. 2 South Carolina took their 45th straight home victory, 78-68 Thursday night.

This win completed the Gamecocks’ regular-season sweep over the Cats for the second time in the last three seasons. South Carolina has won five of its last seven contests against UK overall.

UK’s leading scorer and the Southeastern Conference’s second leading scorer Makayla Epps was held scoreless in the first half. She turned that around in the second half, making eight straight baskets to lead the Cats comeback efforts. She had a 13-point third-quarter and finished the game with 17 points.

After an 11-3 run late in the third quarter brought UK to within one point of the lead, South Carolina guard Khadijah Sessions knocked down a 3-point buzzer beater from over 70 feet away to extend South Carolina’s lead heading into the last period.

The teams traded baskets in the fourth quarter before made shots from South Carolina guard Tina Roy and Alaina Coates made it 64-57 and forced a UK timeout.

UK answered as a Taylor Murray 3-pointer cut the lead to just two with 2:36 left to play after being down as much as eleven.

Unfortunately, the Cats comeback efforts fell flat as the team missed its final six shots of the game.

South Carolina’s Coates powered the Gamecocks throughout the game, contributing her fourth double-double in the past five games, and ending the game with 27 points and 13 rebounds.

“I thought tonight was one of her best games. She focused on finishing and playing both sides of the ball,” South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley said after the game. “I thought she did a great job in the back of our defense and directing everyone on that end. I hope this is a prelude to the rest of the season.”

Forward A’ja Wilson also added 18 points for the Gamecocks. The duo accounted for 15 of the 26 field goals for South Carolina.

The Cats are now 15-6 on the season and 4-6 in SEC play. UK will return to its home court Sunday as they host LSU in Memorial Coliseum.