Kentucky womens basketball defeats Mississippi State 81-74, snaps four-game home skid


Kentucky Wildcats forward Dre’una Edwards (44) reaches for a rebound during the UK vs. South Carolina womens basketball on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK lost 59-50. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Cole Parke

Kentucky womens basketball (11-11) defeated Mississippi State (15-9) 81-74 inside Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday night, snapping a four-game home losing streak.

The win came on the back of a 24-2 run in the fourth quarter to erase a 15-point deficit, marking the longest fourth quarter comeback Kentucky has had since 2014, as well as the 11th biggest comeback in program history.

In beating the Bulldogs, Kentucky secured its first home win since defeating No. 15 Georgia on Jan. 6, its last win before what would ultimately be a 1-8 stretch in conference play.

Since beating Georgia, Kentucky lost 77-52 to Florida, 63-54 to Ole Miss inside Rupp Arena, 73-64 to Texas A&M, and 59-50 to No. 1 South Carolina, all in Lexington.

“We are very excited that [this game] came out in our favor,” Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy said. “[The players] earned this one, no one gave it to them, they earned it. We talked about getting to the free throw line and shooting 80-percent – we shot 90-percent. We talked about taking care of the ball with 12 or less turnovers – we had eight.”

Kentucky junior forward Dre’una Edwards led the Wildcats in scoring, recording a 23-point, 10-rebound double-double on the night, her seventh double-double of the season.

“I just had to lock in and do what I had to do,” Edwards said after the win. “My teammates and coaches were lifting me up and letting me know I got this, and I just went out there and played my game.”

While Edwards led the box score for Kentucky, she was not the only Wildcat to record a double-double, with senior guard Rhyne Howard finishing the game with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Howard, who went 4-19 from the field, was able to heavily contribute to the team’s offense in other ways, getting to the free-throw line effectively, where she went 6-6, while also securing six assists. Five of her 11 rebounds came on offense, allowing for more second chance points for the Cats.

“I just have to continue doing the little things,” Howard said. “I was taking shots and it just wasn’t going in during the second and third quarter. I got rebounds and had hustle plays to create more looks for my teammates because I’m not going to keep forcing shots, especially if someone else is open. I’m getting the board, just trying to hit [Dre’una Edwards] because you know she’s going to score.”

Kentucky freshman Jada Walker also recorded her second highest-scoring game in SEC play, putting up 17 points in the winning effort. Walker finished the game 3-3 from beyond the arch, the only Wildcat to finish perfect from deep in the game.

“[Jada Walker is] not sitting behind anyone learning, she’s learning on the job,” Elzy said. “That’s part of being a freshman, and you’re going to have some highs and some lows, but you can let her play through some of her mistakes because of how hard she plays and competes. She makes us a different team.”

With the win, Kentucky continues to narrowly keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, likely needing to win out and have a strong SEC Tournament showing in order to earn an at-large bid.

Kentucky next hosts Vanderbilt on Thursday, Feb. 17, inside Memorial Coliseum for one of two home games remaining in the regular season. The contest is scheduled to tip-off at 7 p.m. EST.