No. 13 Kentucky cruise past North Alabama 98-56


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 (2-0) picked up where they left off after their season opener, defeating North Alabama (1-1) 98-56 at home on Thursday in Lexington.

Rhyne Howard recorded a double-double for the Wildcats with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Dre’una Edwards was the team’s leading scorer of the night with 27 points in the contest.

The Cats out-rebounded the Lions 50-27, winning the battle for offensive rebounds 24-9. Kentucky had four players with double-digit point totals, including freshman guard Jada Walker, who scored 13 points and was recognized as the ‘Blue Heart’ hustle player of the game by the team.

“I thought [Walker] gave us a big boost off the bench,” head coach Kyra Elzy said. “Her on-ball defense is a beautiful thing to watch. I really like her aggressiveness. She looks to push in transition, and she’s only a freshman so she’s still figuring it out, but the intensity in which she plays with? You gotta love it.”

The Wildcats entered the game off their season opener, an 81-53 win over Presbyterian in Memorial Coliseum. The game was the first of three that Kentucky will play in a six day span. 

The first half against North Alabama was yet again a slow one for UK. The Wildcats led by eight at the end of the first quarter, shooting 1-4 from the 3-point line. 

Kentucky’s struggles really presented themselves in the second quarter, as the Cats went cold with a nearly five minute scoring drought midway through the quarter. The drought allowed North Alabama to cut the lead down to four entering the half, having outscored Kentucky 17-13 in the second quarter. 

“I would say, personally, our first halves of the first two games has not been what it’s supposed to be,” Edwards said. “I think we’ve been playing to the level of our competition. At half-time we all just get together and we talk about it and we [acknowledge that] it happened, it’s okay, we just gotta go do what we need to do.”

Coming out of the break, Kentucky looked like the team they were expected to be, quickly going on a 7-0 run in the third quarter. The Wildcats made 10 of their last 11 field goals to finish the quarter, out-scoring the Lions 36-20 to boast a 20-point lead entering the fourth.

The fourth quarter was once again all Kentucky, as the Wildcats out-scored North Alabama 27-5 to end the game. UK finished the game with a 24-0 run, having forced 10 turnovers in the fourth quarter alone. 

Kentucky took control of the ball in the final seconds just two points shy of triple digits, but Coach Elzy made the decision to stop the run as the Cats dribbled out the clock, giving them a 42-point win in their second game.

“I know they wanted to score 100,” Elzy said. “[Stopping the run] was the right thing to do. They were giving me a hard time in the locker room after saying they wanted 100 and I just turned and said ‘hit your free throws.”

Kentucky will close out their three-game stretch this Sunday, Nov. 14, as they travel to Bloomington to take on No. 8 Indiana. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. and will air on ESPN.