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Kentucky women’s basketball falls in overtime 77-74 to Mississippi State

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Sydney Yonker
Kentucky forward Ajae Petty plays defense during the Kentucky vs. Mississippi State women’s basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 77-74. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff

Kentucky women’s basketball (9-13, 2-6) extended what is now a three-game losing streak, falling in its first overtime of the season to the Mississippi State Bulldogs 77-74 inside Rupp Arena on Thursday.

The loss marked just the second home conference loss for the Wildcats this season, with the first coming on Jan. 11 when the Cats fell 95-73 to the Vanderbilt Commodores.

What followed the tip-off would be nothing short of sloppy, with senior Ajae Petty netting the first bucket 90 seconds in and both teams tallying 11 combined turnovers including five traveling violations in five minutes.

The Cats and Dogs would exchange baskets after, with a transition bucket from senior Maddie Scherr tying the score at eight. The Wildcats would end the first period down one with eight turnovers.

“I know in the first quarter we weren’t shooting it all that well,” Scherr said. “But I think having a short memory is so important and not letting your offense affect your defense.”

Mississippi State would kick off the scoring in the second quarter, with Bulldog graduate Erynn Barnum netting her first bucket to give State a three-point advantage.

The Bulldogs would proceed to open an eight-point lead halfway through the second quarter, but sophomore Cassidy Rowe’s first points by way of a 3-pointer would cut the lead to five shortly after.

Petty would then net another layup for her sixth point of the game, with both Petty and sophomore Amiya Jenkins leading the Wildcats in scoring as they entered the half down seven.

Kentucky would be quick to shorten the Bulldog advantage out of the break, with a series of buckets topped off by a made jump shot from sophomore Saniah Tyler bringing the Cats within four.

The Wildcats would eventually close the gap, with Kentucky taking its first lead since halfway through the first quarter after a three-point shot from Scherr off a Bulldog turnover that gave the Cats a 38-37 lead.

“I love their fight and that’s what they needed,” head coach Kyra Elzy said. “We battled.  I thought we matched their physicality.”

State would take the lead back shortly after following a bucket from Bulldog graduate Jessika Carter, with the Dogs commanding a two-point lead as the game entered the final quarter.

The start of the fourth would see Mississippi State maintain its lead up until the six-minute mark, where a layup from Tyler would bring things even at 51.

Neither team would be able to command a lead surpassing one possession until Tyler’s first deep ball of the game, which put Kentucky up six with just under three minutes to play.

Kentucky would maintain its six-point lead as the game entered the final minute of regulation when State senior Darrione Rogers buried a triple to cut the Wildcat lead to three.

A Petty free throw would put Kentucky up two possessions but was followed by a pair of threes from Bulldog senior Debreasha Powe that put State up two with eight seconds left in the game.

Elzy would put the ball in the hands of senior Eniya Russell, who would drive and net a layup to tie the score at 66 and force extra minutes to decide a winner.

“I thought Eniya Russell stepped up for us tonight,” Elzy said. “She delivered once again so we’re very proud of her and the team for executing down the stretch.”

The Bulldogs would jump out to an early four-point lead in overtime, a lead that a pair of made free throws from Scherr would cut to two.

State would proceed to lengthen its advantage back out to five, with the lead proving too much for the Wildcats to overcome as they dropped their sixth conference bout in the last seven games after a 77-74 loss.

Kentucky will have a chance to get back in the win column on Sunday, Feb. 4, when it heads down to Athens, Georgia, to take on the Georgia Bulldogs with hopes of breaking a three-game losing streak. Tip-off is set for noon ET.

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