Kentucky womens basketball suffers first loss in Bahamas against No. 11 Virginia Tech


Jackson Dunavant

Kentucky Wildcats guard Robyn Benton (1) goes up fro a layup during the Kentucky vs. Bellarmine woman’s basketball game on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at Memorial Collusium in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 63-45. Photo by Jackson Dunavant | Staff

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

Kentucky womens basketball (4-1) suffered its first loss of the season in The Bahamas on Monday, losing to No. 11 Virginia Tech 82-74.

The loss took place in the first of two games UK is set to play in the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship in Nassau. It also took place in Kentucky’s first game against a ranked opponent.

While the final score line remained within single digits, the game’s entirety could not say the same, with Kentucky trailing by as many as 28 points in the second quarter.

The Wildcats finished the game shooting 5-6 in recent attempts, bringing the final shooting performance to 30-68 (44%) from the field and 2-9 (22%) from beyond the arc.

That said, Virginia Tech did not shoot significantly better, shooting 29-62 (47%) from the field and 4-14 (29%) from the field.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, a slow start saw UK trail 29-8 at the end of the first quarter, a hole it would never be able to dig itself out of.

“I thought we panicked,” Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy said. “We didn’t trust our offense and I think we took some quick shots. They were physical with us early and we drove down hill and missed some bunnies, missed some outside shots. I thought they made us play fast and we just didn’t adjust very well, then we let our offense affect our defense.”

Kentucky battled back in the second quarter, tying the Hokies’ 15 points, but the lack of any gained ground meant Elzy’s Wildcats took a 21-point deficit into the locker room at halftime.

The Cats came out in the second half much better, outscoring the Hokies 26-23 in the third quarter and 25-15 in the fourth quarter, though the effort was ultimately not enough to claim victory.

Sophomore point guard Jada Walker led the Cats in scoring, notching 17 points and four assists, though she, like four other Wildcats, found herself in heavy foul trouble.

Walker finished the night with four fouls, along with Blair Green and Robyn Benton, forcing Elzy to rely on many of her new players with three of her five returners facing foul trouble.

The personal fouls didn’t stop Green and Benton from contributing though, with Benton adding 13 points to UK’s total and Green scoring nine.

The three returners were lucky enough to complete the game, but the same could not be said for South Carolina transfer Eniya Russell and Oregon transfer Maddie Scherr, both of whom fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter.

Both players combined for 12 points on the night with Scherr also adding four assists and seven rebounds.

While the Cats were able to battle back in the end, for fans of the Wildcats the result was likely frustrating, going down as yet another chapter in the saga of team struggles this season.

UK started its season with a narrow win over Radford, who has yet to defeat a division-1 opponent, and, after taking care of business against Morehead State and Coastal Carolina, didn’t look its best against Bellarmine on Nov. 17.

“There are no moral victories,” Elzy said. “We came here to win, and we came here to fight. We allowed Virginia Tech to build too much of a lead in that first quarter and if we could have that back it might be a different outcome. This is where you learn.”

Luckily for Kentucky, before returning home to Lexington the Wildcats have a bounce-back opportunity in the form of the Dayton Flyers, who currently stand at 0-5 on the season, though two of the losses, to Northern Kentucky and Illinois State, were in overtime.

Elzy was also optimistic that, while no moral victories should be taken, the fight Kentucky displayed to try to battle back will be impactful on the team going forward.

“This is going to be very valuable,” she said. “We talk about being built different and we have to have that mentality. When we were down by that many points, we could have laid down, but we didn’t. They have fight in them, and they have heart.”

The matchup against Dayton marks the final game the Cats will play in Nassau and is scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Nov. 23, airing live on FloHoops.