No. 21 Kentucky unable to overcome poor shooting; downed 74-54 by No. 1 South Carolina


Kentucky Wildcats guard Rhyne Howard (10) guards an inbounds pass during the UK vs. Merrimack women’s basketball game on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 90-56. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Cole Parke

No. 21 Kentucky women’s basketball (8-4) came up short on the road, falling 74-54 to No. 1 South Carolina (15-1).

While the game was close early on, with both teams closing the first quarter tied at 18, South Carolina began to pull away in the second quarter, out-scoring Kentucky 23-9.

After entering halftime down 14 points, things would only get worse for Kentucky as the Cats would never get closer than 15 points in the second half 

Kentucky was picked apart down low, being out-scored in the paint 54-22, in big part due to South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, who finished the game with 18 points and 15 rebounds.

“I was sleepless last night thinking about how you can defend Aliyah Boston,” Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy said. “She’s very skilled around the basket and she can step out. You have to bring so much attention to her. We tried to bring the double to her and sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.”

While the Gamecocks had multiple players who finished looking strong on the box score, Kentucky could not say the same with nearly the entire team struggling to make shots.

Kentucky shot just 30 percent from the field on 71 attempts, and 39-percent from beyond the arch. The Cats also shot just 5-11 from the free throw line.

The leading scorer for the Wildcats was Robyn Benton, who put up 11 points on 13 attempts. Dre’una Edwards, Treasure Hunt, and Jazmine Massengill all followed behind with 10 points.

One player notably missing from the double-digit scoring group was Rhyne Howard, who was fresh off her 30-point game against the Georgia Bulldogs just three days prior. Howard scored nine points against South Carolina, going 2-14 from the field and 5-8 from the free throw line. Howard was also 0-3 from deep.

Another player who was notably unable to contribute was freshman Jada Walker, who despite her size, has been described as a spark plug by her teammates for her speed and ferocity. Walker finished the game without any points, shooting 0-7 from the field and 0-1 from deep.

“I just grabbed [Jada] in the locker room and said ‘Welcome to the SEC’,” Elzy said. “This is a great learning experience and this is going to prepare her for the next one. [Walker] has been steady for us all year long and she played like a rookie today, but that’s okay. We’re still counting on her. She’s a competitor and she will learn from the film and be ready for our next one.”

While disappointed in the performance as a whole, coach Elzy was unwilling to hang her head with the big loss, emphasizing the game as a learning opportunity that the team can grow from.

“You’ve got to learn from it,” Elzy said. “Every game you take the opportunity and learn. We’ve got to go back to Lexington and really work on our free throws. I thought we had some good offensive execution, we went downhill which was our game plan, now we just have to finish. The margin of error is just so small against a team like South Carolina and they made us pay for some mistakes.”

The Wildcats return to action on Thursday, Jan. 13, to battle the Mississippi State Bulldogs inside Memorial Coliseum. That game is scheduled to tip-off at 7 p.m. E.T and will air on the SEC Network+.