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Kentucky women’s basketball leaves 2023 Paradise Jam winless after 65-41 loss to Cincinnati

Kentucky+head+coach+Kyra+Elzy+walks+onto+the+court+before+the+Kentucky+vs.+ETSU+womens+basketball+game+on+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+7%2C+2023%2C+at+the+Clive+M.+Beck+Center+in+Lexington%2C+Kentucky.+Kentucky+won+74-66+Photo+by+Travis+Fannon+%7C+Staff
Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy walks onto the court before the Kentucky vs. ETSU womens basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, at the Clive M. Beck Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 74-66 Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

Kentucky women’s basketball (2-5) fell to the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday 65-41 inside the University of Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center in the U.S. Virgin Islands to conclude its 2023 Paradise Jam campaign.

The loss extended what is now a five-game losing streak for the Wildcats, with Kentucky staying winless after opening the season 2-0.

Sophomore Saniah Tyler would kick off the scoring, netting Kentucky’s first five points as it opened a 5-2 lead early in the first.

The remainder of the first quarter would be back-and-forth, with three lead changes occurring and the Bearcats ending the quarter on an 8-0 run to take a seven-point lead.

Kentucky would strike first in the second quarter by way of a pair of made free throws from junior Ajae Petty, with the forwards finishing a perfect 4-4 on the day from the charity stripe. The free throws were her only points in the game.

“They were double-teaming Petty,” Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy said. “It’s really tough for Petty to do what she does consistently, and teams are packing it in.”

Cincinnati’s defense down low would prove effective, with the Bearcats following Petty’s free throws with a 12-2 run to open yet another double-digit deficit for the Wildcats.

Wildcat senior Maddie Scherr would follow the Bearcat run with her first buckets of the second quarter, with Scherr leading the Wildcats in scoring in the first half with eight points.

The Bearcats would have the last laugh of the half, tacking on three more points to give Kentucky its third consecutive double-digit hole heading into the break.

“We just panicked against the zone,” Elzy said. “We talked about getting the ball to the middle and attacking the corners, which you need to do with a 3-2 zone.”

Scherr would continue to keep the Wildcats within striking distance to start the second half, with Cincinnati keeping pace with the Florence, Kentucky, native to maintain its advantage.

All 11 Wildcat points in the third quarter would come from Scherr, with the Oregon transfer’s season-high 24 points keeping Kentucky’s head above water as the fourth quarter got underway.

“I just challenged her to have a short-term memory,” Elzy said regarding Scherr’s performance. “She was really impressive today, she did step up, emptied her tank and led. Now we have to follow, she’s a veteran guard that understands what it takes to win.”

A familiar problem would resurface to stump Scherr’s day, with the Cats committing 21 turnovers to mark their second consecutive match with 20 or more blown possessions.

Junior guard Brooklyn Miles’ and-one play in the final quarter would act as three of the four points to come from somebody not wearing 22 in blue and white, with the Bearcats outscoring the Cats 13-10 in the fourth to hand Kentucky its third consecutive loss of 24 or more.

The Wildcats will head back to their home away from home to take on Boston College inside the Clive M. Beck Center on the campus of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, as part of the SEC/ACC Challenge on Thursday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. ET.

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