No. 19 Kentucky snap two-game skid; defeat USC Upstate 67-44


Kentucky Wildcats guard Rhyne Howard (10) drives the ball into the paint 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

Jaron Centers

The No. 19 Kentucky women’s basketball team improved to 7-3 on the regular season Sunday afternoon, following a 67-44 victory over the USC Upstate Spartans 

Rhyne Howard led the Cats with 22 points and four assists, while Dre’una Edwards claimed another double-double, finishing with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman Jada Walker also finished with 13 points. For Upstate, Terah Harness and Denijsha Wilson finished with 11 points each.

The Spartans got off to a quick start in the first quarter of play, as a 7-0 scoring run kept the Wildcats scoreless in the first four minutes of the game. While a brief scoring run kept the Cats close, Upstate kept the foot on the gas defensively, leading to a scoring drought in the last three minutes of the first. UK was cold from the field, shooting just 2-15 through the first 10 minutes. 

Upstate’s Harness led all scorers with five points and two rebounds in the first quarter. No UK player scored over two points in the quarter, on top of a scoring drought in the last few minutes. The Spartans led Kentucky 14-5.

In the second, UK began to take control of the game following a 9-0 scoring run to start the quarter. Jazmine Massengill asserted herself as a force for the Cats, along with Edwards, scoring six points each heading into halftime. Self-inflicted errors became a pain for the Spartans, as nine turnovers prevented Upstate from keeping a firm lead. 

UK’s defensive intensity stepped up in a major way, as 12 points off turnovers gave the Cats a three-point lead going into the locker room. 

The third quarter of play saw the game’s biggest scoring explosion from the Wildcats. Howard erupted, going off for 13 points in the quarter on six attempts. The senior was able to get to the line as well, cashing in all five opportunities from the charity stripe. 

Turnovers once again proved fatal for the Spartans, while UK executed on those takeaways, scoring 16 points total in the third off turnovers. Massengill and Walker both had five points in the quarter. 

While the fourth quarter was slower offensively for the Cats, the point margin was too far for the Spartans to overcome. Howard and Owens led UK in the final 10 minutes with four points each. The second-half surge lifted UK by 23 as the final buzzer sounded, giving the Cats their seventh victory of the season. 

The Cats’ victory over the Spartans comes after a two-game losing-streak to DePaul and Louisville. UK will have 11 days off over the holiday before taking on Auburn. The road test will be Kentucky’s first in conference play. That game will tip-off at 8 p.m. E.T on Thursday, Dec. 30, and will be available to stream on the SEC Network+.