Kentucky falls short 78-69 at No. 12 LSU


Kentucky guard Emma King (34) attempts to recover the ball during the UK vs. Ole Miss womens basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK lost 63-54. Photo by Isabel McSwain | Staff

Cole Parke

Kentucky womens basketball (9-9) fell 78-69 on the road against No. 12 LSU (18-4) on Sunday, with senior guard Rhyne Howard becoming the second all-time leading scorer for Kentucky in the process.

Howard and freshman Jada Walker combined for 44 of Kentucky’s 69 points with 23 and 21 points respectively. With only one other Wildcat securing double-figures, the rest of the team combined for just 25 points.

“I thought Jada Walker stepped up to the challenge,” Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy said. “I thought she played hard for 40 minutes. She had a tall task to guard veteran point guard Khayla Pointer, and I thought she stepped up and made big buckets.”

The freshman accomplished multiple season records with her performance, including a new career-high point total, beating out the previous record of 18 points in Kentucky’s loss to DePaul. 

Walker also secured a new record for minutes played, playing in 37 minutes against the Tigers, beating out her previous record of 35 minutes, which she set in the game prior against Vanderbilt.

Another notable performance on the night was put on by returning forward Dre’una Edwards, who had not played in Kentucky’s last four games due to a disciplinary suspension.

With her re-emergence being a road game against a top-15 opponent, Edwards got right back into the thick of the action, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

“It was great having Dre back,” Elzy said. “Obviously she makes us different on both ends of the floor, with her ability to stretch the defense with the pick and pop. It was good having her back.”

In familiar fashion this season, despite the strong performances by other Wildcats, no one was able to outshine Howard on Sunday.

The senior guard’s 23 points gave her the necessary amount to move up to second in the all-time program scoring leaders list, surpassing A’dia Mathies (2,014). 

Howard just previously made headlines in Kentucky’s prior loss to Vanderbilt, with her 25-point effort getting her to exactly 2,000 career points and making her just the third ever Wildcat to reach the number. 

While it’s unlikely Howard will take first place, with the position being held by Valerie Still with 2,763 career points, her name is forever etched into the history books as one of the best to ever play the game in Lexington.

“Rhyne Howard continues to show why she’s the best player in the country,” Elzy said. “Whether they have two [players] hanging on her or whether they’re physical coming off of screens, she just makes plays and she can score at all three levels.”

While Kentucky returned two players to the lineup, Edwards from her suspension and Treasure Hunt from injury, the Wildcats were still short-staffed in the loss to the Tigers, with four players out for injury.

While the injured list saw familiar faces, such as Kristen Crenshaw-Gill, and Robyn Benton, a new face was added with starting point-guard Jazmine Massengill not traveling with the team due to concussion protocol.

“Being short handed has shown us that we have resiliency,” Elzy emphasized after the loss.

“Yes, we have come up short, but players have to have a mental toughness to play the amount of minutes we’re asking of them. Credit to Nyah Leveretter and Emma King, three weeks ago they were hardly playing, and now they’re either starting or playing 30-plus minutes. We look forward to getting Robyn Benton and Jazmine Massengill back, and I told them we’re going to be a dangerous team when we have all our pieces in place.”

Kentucky gets nearly a full week of rest after its three-games-in-one-week stretch, returning to play next Sunday, Feb. 6, back home against Texas A&M. That game is currently scheduled to tip-off at noon and will air on ESPN2.