Down to just seven available players, No. 23 Kentucky Women’s Basketball (8-7, 1-4) lost its fourth game in a row on Sunday afternoon inside of Rupp Arena. It was the Ole Miss Rebels (17-2, 5-1) who knocked off the Wildcats this time, doing so to the tune of a 63-54 win.
Before the ball could even tip in Lexington, Kentucky was already in a hole. The Wildcats’ second-leading scorer, Dre’Una Edwards, missed her second straight game due to undisclosed disciplinary reasons, while the fourth-leading scorer, Robyn Benton, was sidelined with an ankle injury she suffered on Thursday in the loss to Florida.
Without Edwards and Benton, points were tough to come by and the majority of the scoring load was placed upon the shoulders of two-time SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard. The 6-foot-2 senior managed to finish with an impressive stat line, but she needed more from her teammates. UK shot just 35.8 percent from the field and failed to make a 3-pointer, finishing 0-6.
Kentucky opened the afternoon much like it did earlier this week against Florida. It wasn’t an ideal start, but the ‘Cats played well enough to remain within striking distance throughout the opening 10 minutes. Eight first-quarter turnovers killed UK though, offsetting Ole Miss’ rough 7-19 start shooting the ball.
Heading into the second period, the Rebels led 18-13, but unlike the loss to Florida, Kentucky continued to fight. UK cut down the turnovers, recording just two in the second frame, ultimately winning the period 12-10 to keep the contest close. The ‘Cats went into the locker room trailing 28-25 despite 10 miscues and a 2-11 shooting clip from Howard.
Out of the locker room, the two sides continued to trade blows. Howard finally hit her groove, pouring in eight points on 4-6 shooting as UK went 7-11 as a team in the third quarter. But on the other end of the floor, Ole Miss’ 6-foot-5 center and future WNBA Draft pick, Shakira Austin, added nine points on 4-5 shooting of her own.
With just 10 minutes left, Kentucky went into the fourth quarter trailing 46-42. It was a valiant effort to stay alive by the ‘Cats, particularly Howard, but an untimely drought spelled doom for UK.
Kentucky went over three minutes without a score down the stretch as Ole Miss began to stretch its lead. The Rebels went up by nine with roughly 60 seconds left to put the game out of reach. Ole Miss won the fourth quarter 17-12 to take the victory by nine points.
Howard led the way for UK, posting 24 points and 10 rebounds on 9-23 shooting (0-3 from distance) and a 6-7 mark from the free-throw line. It was her fourth double-double of the season and her second in a row. Treasure Hunt was the next highest-scoring ‘Cat with eight points and five rebounds.
Austin powered the Rebels with 24 points of her own in addition to eight rebounds and two blocks. Snudda Collins added 12 points while Madison Scott went for 10. Ole Miss shot just 38.5 percent from the field.