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Kentucky women’s basketball falls 76-57 against Minnesota in Rupp Arena

Travis Fannon
Kentucky guard Saniah Tyler sits on the guard after missing a shot during the Kentucky vs, Tennessee Tech women’s basketball game Monday, Dec. 4, 2023, at the Clive M. Beck Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 73-67. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

Kentucky women’s basketball (4-6) was defeated by the Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-1) 76-57 inside Rupp Arena on Wednesday night.

The Cats were riding a two-game win streak heading into the contest while Minnesota was riding a four-game win streak of its own.

The Wildcats were short-handed for their battle with the Golden Gophers after being bitten by the injury bug, which caused them to play without Maddie Scherr, Cassidy Rowe, Amiya Jenkins and Nyah Leveretter. Kentucky was also battling without Zennia Thomas, who is suspended.

Kentucky won the tip and made its way down the court where it would miss its first try of the game, but Minnesota followed up with a miss of its own. The first basket of the game came almost two minutes into the first quarter when Eniya Russell kicked things off with a pull-up jumpshot to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.

Russell would go on to finish the first quarter with nine points as Kentucky headed into the first break up 17-16.

“I thought Russell kind of had a way with us in the first half and we started to understand how quickly we had to help,” Minnesota head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said.

While Russell took over during the first quarter, reigning SEC Player of the Week Ajae Petty did some damage to the Gophers herself in the second quarter by leading Kentucky with eight points.

Heading into halftime, Kentucky led 38-36 while shooting 50% from the field and 60% from behind the charity stripe.

In the second half, Kentucky started slowly as Minnesota came out and buried six straight points, forcing Kentucky to call its first timeout of the third quarter.

Coming out of the timeout, Kentucky air-balled a 3-point shot, which seemed to have drowned its confidence as the Gophers extended their scoring run to 11-0.

Russell responded with a bucket shortly after, making the score read 47-40 in favor of Minnesota.

Heading into the fourth and final quarter of the game, Kentucky was facing a seven point deficit as the Wildcats were trailing 56-49.

The Wildcats needed to have a big fourth quarter but instead had the opposite as they did not score a field goal until there was just under three-and-a-half minutes left, suffocating their chances.

39 of the Gophers’ 76 points were 3-pointers as Minnesota finished 59.1% from behind the arc, making 13 out of its 22 attempts.

“(We) just gave up too many three’s today,” Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy said, “We got to go back and figure out why we did that.”

Kentucky has four days to watch film and work on improving defensively as it faces a tall task next game against the No. 18 ranked Louisville Cardinals on Sunday, Dec. 10, inside the KFC Yum Center.

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