Kentucky defeat Lee 95-51 in exhibition tune-up


Kentucky Wildcats forward Dre’una Edwards (44) celebrates a basket during the University of Kentucky vs. Tennessee women’s basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 71-56. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Jaron Centers

The UK women’s basketball team dominated the Lee University Flames 95-51 in an impressive first showing of the 2021-22 season. 

Dre’una Edwards led the Cats with 21 points and eight rebounds, Rhyne Howard followed with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Oliva Owens finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. 

Lee’s Haley Schubert led all scorers with 28 on 12-15 shooting. 

The Cats lone exhibition was a near complete performance, as UK held control in nearly every aspect of the game. 51 percent shooting from the field (40-78) kept the Flames out of reach while the UK defense forced 29 turnovers, scoring an impressive 32 points off takeaways. 

Additionally, the Cats gathered 15 steals and five blocks on the night. Free throw shooting was the only glaring weakness, as the Cats only had nine makes out of 20 attempts at the line. 

Head coach Kyra Elzy said the team will be shooting “a lot of free throws” in practice ahead of the season opener against Presbyterian. 

“We want to get to the free throw line, which we talked about in the locker room,” Elzy said. “We need to shoot 80 percent or higher and we were not close to that tonight. So we’ll go back and work on that.”

The Flames seemingly wouldn’t go away in the first few minutes of action, until a UK 17-0 scoring run put the Cats in control going into the second quarter. Edwards led all scorers with seven, while Owens held down the paint with six points and five rebounds in the first 10 minutes. 

Lee’s Julia Duncan and Haley Schubert led the Flames with five points each in the first quarter. Turnovers put the Flames behind early on, as the Cats gathered seven takeaways in the first 10 minutes of play. 

The second quarter of the game put victory well out of reach for the Flames, as 64 percent shooting from the field gave the Cats a 56-27 lead going into halftime. Howard led UK at the half with 15 points and six rebounds.

Kentucky got off to a slow start coming out of the locker room, but the Flames couldn’t get out of their own way with six turnovers resulting in a 76-47 lead going into the fourth quarter. Edwards led all Wildcats with six points on 3-6 shooting in the third. 

The UK offense didn’t let off the gas, as all nine Cats who played saw the ball enter the hoop in the fourth quarter of play. Once again, turnovers proved to be the Flames’ Achilles’ heel, turning the ball over nine times as Lee tried anything they could to remain competitive. The final buzzer rang with a UK block from Robyn Benton to close a convincing defensive performance in a blowout victory. 

After the game, Dre’una Edwards gave her teammates the credit for her 21-point performance. 

“It was definitely fun to be out there. But, my teammates got me the ball and fed me when I needed them to, so they were amazing.” 

In her last exhibition of her senior year, Howard talked about the advantage of having the fans back for her final season. 

“It was great to have the fans back, they really get us going,” Howard said. “If we’re having a tough time or even doing good, just hearing them makes us want to go even harder.” 

A dominant night closes the women’s preseason on a high note. The Cats’ celebration will have to be short-lived, as they open the season next Tuesday, Nov. 9, against Presbyterian College in Memorial Coliseum. The season opener will air on SEC Network+ at 7:00 p.m E.T.