Wildcat defense struggles as Kentucky falls to Louisville 86-72 in Rupp Arena


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats guard Jada Walker (11) looks to pass the ball during the Kentucky vs. Louisville womens basketball game on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Louisville won 86-72. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Drew Johnson, Reporter

Coming off of its first power-five victory of the season, Kentucky womens basketball played its first of two games inside Rupp Arena against in-state rival Louisville on Sunday, with the Cardinals ultimately winning 86-72.

The Cardinals entered the matchup with a mixed bag, recording strong wins over then No. 3 Texas while also losing a number of games they were favored in as well.

The first half saw Louisville take a commanding lead to open the game, going up 14-8 in just the opening five minutes.

After the fast start the Cardinals never looked back, heading into halftime with a 42-25 lead. Cardinal forward Liz Dixon was largely responsible for the lopsided first half, accounting for 10 points on her own.

Kentucky would manage to slow down the Cardinals offensive attack after halftime, but the early lead by Louisville was ultimately too much to overcome.

The Wildcats attempted a late comeback, but the 22-point lead the Cardinals had recorded halfway through the third quarter proved to be too much for UK to come back from.

“It just sucks. Period,” Kentucky guard Maddie Scherr said. “Obviously we never want to lose any game, but especially losing to Louisville. It just sucks.”

Scherr ended the game with 18 points, five rebounds and six assists, doing her best to keep the game close in the opening quarter.

Another UK standout was 5-foot-9 guard Robyn Benton, who put up 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and a show-stopping block to highlight the performance.

After the game, Benton mentioned her excitement to get back to practicing and improving before their next game.

“[I’m] very eager. I hate losing,” she said. “We’re disappointed, we came here to win today, and we got to improve some things. I know there’s a couple times the ball went over my head, and I should have got the rebound. We’re just going to take a look back at the film and try to improve, get better for the next game.”

On the other side of the ball, Louisville had many standout performances that led to such a dominant win.

Dixon, a 6-foot-5 forward, emphasized the height difference that would prove to be a problem for the Wildcats all game, with the taller Cardinals being able to dominate UK inside on both sides of the floor.

Dixon herself would be a problem for UK all game as well, finishing the game with 16 points, shooting 5-6 from the field and 6-7 from the free-throw line. The Tennessee native also contributed even more than just what is visible on the stat sheet, having her way in the paint on both offense and defense.

Other Cardinals with big performances on Sunday were 6-foot-2 guard Morgan Jones and 5-foot-7 guard Hailey Van Lith.

Jones finished the game with 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, helping Louisville seal the game defensively. Van Lith also put up 21 points in the game, overcoming a slow first half start and hitting multiple clutch shots to seal the victory for Louisville.

Kentucky will be looking to get back on the right track as it returns to action inside Memorial Coliseum on Dec. 16 to face Murray State at 7 p.m. EST.