Cats erupt in second half, defeat Presbyterian 81-53 in season opener


Kentucky Wildcats guard Jazmine Massengill (3) and Kentucky Wildcats guard Rhyne Howard (10) jump up to celebrate the three pointer scored before the half during the UK vs. Presbyterian College women’s basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 81-53. Photo by Amanda Braman | Staff

Cole Parke

No. 13 Kentucky women’s basketball (1-0) started their regular season with an 81-53 win over Presbyterian (0-1) at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington. 

Kentucky struggled in the first half, but dominated the second half en route to a 28-point victory. 

Dre’una Edwards led the Wildcats in points with 20, going 9-11 from the field. Three other Wildcats recorded double-digit point totals, including Treasure Hunt, who had a strong performance, scoring 18 points, with nine rebounds and five assists, going 7-11 from the field. 

“[Treasure] is gifted offensively,” said head coach Kyra Elzy after the game. “She has a great feel for the game and can score from all three levels and has great size, so she makes us different offensively.”

Kentucky struggled in the first half, including a disastrous first quarter. The Wildcats found themselves down 10 at the end of the first, having allowed Presbyterian to shoot 82 percent from the field compared to Kentucky’s 29 percent. The Wildcats attempted eight threes in the quarter, only connecting on one.

“We fell in love with the three point line early on,” Elzy said. “We weren’t leveling off the drives so they got some easy layups and then offensively we became stagnant.”

Though the second quarter favored the Wildcats in the box score, they still struggled to create separation with the Blue Hose. UK senior Rhyne Howard managed to hit a three at the buzzer to give Kentucky a one point lead at the break. Kentucky was able to exploit 11 points off of turnovers in the quarter and 17 points in the half.

“I think it was a momentum changer,” Elzy said about Howard’s shot. “It’s one thing I like about this team: they respond. I told them I didn’t know what Kentucky team this is, but let’s leave them wherever they are and bring out the real Kentucky team. We had more in the tank than we showed and when we got after it defensively it led to easy scoring opportunities to ignite a run.”

Out of the break, Kentucky erupted on offense, going on a 19-0 scoring run early and connected on their first nine shots attempted. By the end of the quarter Kentucky boasted a 24 point lead, having outscored Presbyterian 29-6. 

The fourth quarter was much closer than the third, but Kentucky refused to relent on both sides of the ball, outscoring Presbyterian again, this time 14-10. Time would run out on the Blue Hose, giving Kentucky a strong win to open their season.

Kentucky undergoes a tough stretch of games going forward, playing three games in the next six days. Their next matchup will be Thursday, Nov. 11, as they host North Alabama. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. E.T and can be viewed on the SEC Network+.

“Three games in six days is a lot, especially with the style of play that we have,” Elzy said. “We play uptempo and aggressive defensively, [but] we talked about it. We’re tough, we’re resilient, and we are fit. We just have to weather the storm right now. This is a great test for us early on.”