Kentucky womens basketball wins season opener against Radford 82-78


Jackson Dunavant

Kentucky Wildcats guard Robyn Benton (1) goes up for a layup during the Kentucky vs. Radford women’s basketball game on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 82-78. Photo by Jackson Dunavant | Staff

Samantha Money, Assistant Sports Editor

Kentucky womens basketball (1-0) won its opening game of the season 82-78 against the Radford Highlanders inside Memorial Coliseum on Monday.

The win came less than a week after the Cats completed a successful exhibition game against Pikeville in which they breezed by the Bears 93-45.

Unlike Pikeville though, Radford was not about to let the Wildcats escape with an easy victory.

The Highlanders held the Cats to a slow start in the first half with Kentucky 18-41 in field goals in the first 20 minutes of play.

The Wildcats were desperate for a player to step up and properly lead the team to help find a rhythm and proper energy on the court.

Enter Jada Walker.

Walker started the night strong, moving swiftly and aggressively through Radford’s defense, racking up 19 points on the night, 11 of which came in the first half, and shot 73% from the field.

The game marked the second time at Kentucky that Walker led the team in points, with the first being UK’s 83-67 win over Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament last season.

The second quarter eventually saw a 6-0 run by Kentucky, four of which came from Adebola Adeyeye, before Radford quickly closed the gap to tie the game at 33.

In the second half veteran Robyn Benton made her presence known to help bring the energy on the court. Her 17 points she amassed during her 31 minutes of play was second, just behind Walker, on the score sheet for Kentucky.

A 7-0 run by Radford halfway through the fourth quarter threatened to tip the scale heavily in favor of the Highlanders, but a quick run by Nyah Leveretter helped the Wildcats to hold a narrow lead at the end of the game, finishing the matchup with a 82-78 win.

The win came in spite of the Highlanders outshooting the Cats from the field, connecting on 53.6% of their shots compared to the 45.2% Kentucky connected on.

On the defensive side of the ball Kentucky forced 17 turnovers against Radford while only recording 10 turnovers themselves.

The Cats also excelled in rebounding, namely Leveretter and Adeyeye, who racked up nearly half (16) of the team’s 41 total rebounds, leading the Wildcats to out-rebound the Highlanders 41-28.

Despite the narrow win, Walker expressed that she feels as though the team is moving in the right direction as it looks to overcome its communication issues that stem from the team only having five returning players from last season.

“It is really just chemistry,” Walker said. “Getting used to each other on court, trusting each other on offense and defense that we can do certain things.”

Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy was also happy with the outcome of the game despite the tight final score line, though she did cite things the team will continue to work on as the season goes on.

“Any win is a great win, and we’ll take it,” Elzy said. “Obviously, the ultimate goal is to win. We’ll be back to work on Wednesday, continuing to work on our defensive execution.”

The Wildcats return to action on Friday, Nov. 11, once again inside Memorial Coliseum as they take on Morehead State. Tip off against the Eagles is scheduled for 6 p.m. EST.