Kentucky Women’s Basketball made waves in the Bahamas; not only in the ocean but on the hardwood, too.
On Wednesday afternoon, the ‘Cats (5-1) took down the Dayton Flyers (0-6) by a final score of 70-44. The win is a breath of fresh air after Kentucky fell in heartbreaking fashion to No. 14 Virginia Tech on Monday. With the win, Kentucky closes out the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship 1-1.
Robyn Benton was the standout player for the ‘Cats, dropping 15 points while shooting 6-10 from the field and 2-5 from beyond the arc. Moreover, Benton committed zero turnovers while ripping her opponent twice in the contest.
As a team, Kentucky was solid. The ‘Cats shot 27-77 (35%) from the field and 6-21 (29%) from downtown. While 29% from deep isn’t ideal, it is a step up from UK’s 22% season average. Once again the ‘Cats were fabulous on defense, causing 29 Dayton turnovers. But, enough of the broad talk. Let’s get into the details.
Foul trouble strikes in the first quarter
Benton didn’t wait to get started on Wednesday. In the first three minutes of the game, Benton had six points on 3-3 shooting. The graduate student finished the period with nine points.
Unfortunately, not every ‘Cat could be so lucky. Both Blair Green and Jada Walker picked up two fouls in the first 10 minutes of the contest. Kentucky suffered from foul trouble on Monday, as well. After the game, head coach Kyra Elzy discussed the recent plague.
“We can definitely work on it,” Elzy said during the postgame press conference. “There is an intensity that we want to play. We must be extremely aggressive but we also have to be disciplined.”
Despite the team’s concerning trend, they entered the second period in front 17-12.
Kentucky turns over the Flyers
The ‘Cats didn’t let a few careless fouls hold them back. Halfway through the frame, Kentucky rattled off. seven unanswered points to secure a double-digit lead. Maddie Scherr capped off the impressive run with a 3-pointer from the left wing.
As expected, Kentucky’s defense was instrumental in the first half. The team forced 16 Dayton turnovers through the 20 minutes. For reference, Dayton averages 19 turnovers per game. Moreover, the ‘Cats took advantage of the Flyers’ mistakes, scoring 11 points off turnovers in the half. Propelled forward by their pesky defense, Kentucky strolled into the break with a 29-17 lead.
Blair Green goes big
After being sidelined in the first half due to foul trouble, Green came back with a vengeance. The 6-foot-2 guard scored seven points in seven minutes on 3-6 shooting. Ajae Petty added five points of her own, as well.
Of course, all these points didn’t appear out of thin air. Scherr picked up her season-high 10th assist in just the third period. Scherr’s previous season high came against Morehead State when she dished out nine assists. After the victory, Elzy was complimentary of her junior guard.
“When you can have a Maddie Scherr and Jada Walker — both point guards, different styles — it gives us different looks offensively,” Elzy said. “Maddie is more deliberate. ‘I’m going to pick you apart. Make you pay.'”
Fueled by Scherr’s distribution, Kentucky took a commanding 49-32 lead into the final 10 minutes of the game.
Kentucky finishes strong
Things only got worse for Dayton in the fourth quarter. The ‘Cats began the frame on a 9-0 run before finally allowing Dayton to find a bucket at the charity stripe. Nonetheless, the scoring streak was enough to help the ‘Cats win the period by nine points.
Jada Walker was largely responsible for this point differential. The 5-foot-7 guard followed Green’s lead, scoring seven points in seven minutes. Additionally, freshmen Saniah Tyler, Cassidy Rowe and Zennia Thomas snuck into the scoring column for UK. When it was all said and done, Kentucky blew out the Flyers 70-44.
As mentioned previously, the Wildcats’ defense was responsible for their comfortable victory. The team scored 28 points off turnovers, 18 of which were in the fast break. Altogether, the ‘Cats recorded a ridiculous 16 steals.
Additionally, the ‘Cats out-rebounded the Flyers on the offensive glass and outscored them in the paint 32-26. Outside of Benton, Ajae Petty and Walker also scored in double figures. Petty recorded 12 points and six rebounds. Walker added 11 points on 5-9 shooting.
Kentucky will have a well-earned rest before their next game. The team won’t take the court again until Dec. 4 when they square off against UNC Greensboro in Memorial Coliseum. Nevertheless, Elzy doesn’t plan on letting the break go to waste.
“It gives us a real opportunity to go to work on some of the details that we need to execute better,” Elzy said.