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Kentucky Kernel

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Kentucky women’s basketball suffers 73-61 loss against rivals No. 18 Louisville

Travis Fannon
Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy coaches her team during during the Kentucky vs. Minnesota women’s basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 76-57. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

Kentucky women’s basketball (4-7) fell short on the road against the No. 18 Louisville Cardinals Sunday afternoon inside the KFC Yum! Center by a score of 73-61.

After having just seven players available for the Cats’ contest with Minnesota, Maddie Scherr returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Nov. 30 against Boston College.

“It felt great to be back,” Scherr said. “I was happy to be on the floor again.”

Cassidy Rowe also returned after missing the game against the Golden Gophers.

Scherr made her presence known early on, helping the Wildcats erase a seven-point deficit in the first quarter. She would go on to score 10 of Kentucky’s 16 first quarter points and finish the game with 22 points and five rebounds.

Kentucky guard Maddie Scherr shoots the ball during Big Blue Madness on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff (Travis Fannon)

“It is good to have Maddie back,” Kentucky head coach Kyra Elzy said. “What I love about her (is that) she’s a competitor. She wants to win, she plays to win; her ability to score settles us in offensively. I thought she played really tough today but she knows how to make other people around her better, so I’m glad to have her back on the floor.”

It was also a traditional afternoon for Ajae Petty, who finished the game with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats for her sixth double-double of the season.

“She gives us an inside-out presence,” said Elzy. “Her ability to score in the paint; she’s drawing so much attention (that Louisville is) bringing the house to her when she catches it which gives us an opportunity to kick out and make open shots.”

The Wildcats carried their first-quarter momentum into the second, nabbing a 23-20 lead over their rivals after a layup from Petty, but it was the Cardinals who took a 28-27 lead into the halftime break.

Heading into halftime, the Wildcats were 12-26 from the field, while Louisville had four turnovers in the final four minutes of the second quarter thanks, in part, to Elzy using a 2-3 zone on defense.

The Cardinals would finish the game with 18 turnovers, tying their second-highest mark of the year in that category.

“That was a part of our gameplan: to protect the paint,” Scherr said. “I think what got us in trouble is a few breakdowns but also just rebounding out of the zone, but I think we did a good job on personnel defense.”

In the third quarter, the Wildcats took a 39-36 lead with 5:13 to go, but would then go on to be outscored 26-11 by the Cardinals over the next ten minutes of the game to fall behind by 12 midway through the fourth quarter.

Despite a 6-0 run late in the fourth, it ended up being the knockout stretch for the Cardinals, as the Wildcats never took another lead.

“We started turning the ball over, which ignited their transition offense,” Elzy said. “We didn’t rotate out on a couple of shooters and (the last major shortcoming): the offensive rebounds. I thought we started fouling on the offensive rebounds. It was a small stretch, but it really changed the momentum of that game. As a team, we’re not that far off. It was a small window of time, but against that caliber of a team, we can’t have that lapse, and it cost us.”

For the Cardinals, the game marked their seventh-straight win in the women’s basketball edition of the Battle of the Bluegrass, with the Wildcats not having won on the road since 2014.

Kentucky will return home to Rupp Arena next Sunday, Dec. 17, to face the Furman Paladins at 1:00 ET, with the game being televised on the SEC Network+.

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