Harper’s career-high leads UK Hoops past Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt had no answer for UK’s guards Sunday as the foursome combined for 65 of UK’s 82 points in what was the eighth-consecutive loss for the Commodores against the Cats as they fell 82-68.

Linnae Harper had a game and career-high 22 points and six rebounds, while Bria Goss scored eight of her 13 points from the foul line and Makayla Epps continued her smooth transition to the point guard position with another solid performance as she went 8-for-14 from the field for 18 points.

UK (18-5) opened the game on a blistering start, scoring its first three shots, as the Cats ran out to a 6-0 lead. Vanderbilt, however, responded with a run that pulled it ahead 12-19. But back-to-back shots from UK’s Alyssa Rice pulled the Cats to within four with just under 10 minutes in the first half. Epps then scored three of UK’s last five shots to give the Cats a slim 32-31 lead at the half.

Though Epps cooled off in the second half, Harper, Goss and Jennifer O’Neill took up the slack and combined for 37 points. With Harper scoring 16 of her 22 points and O’Neill 10 of her 12 in the second.

After Vanderbilt turned the ball over to open the second half, Epps drained a three and from there UK never trailed again. With both teams shooting 44 percent from the field and a near identical 30 (UK) percent and 31 (Vanderbilt) percent from three, the game came down to free throws and points in the paint.

And UK won both battles.

The Cats went 21-for-23 from the foul line and used their quickness to score 44 points in the paint compared to the Commodores 28.

The win marks the first time since Auburn on Jan. 8 that UK has won back-to-back games.