Kentucky WBB takes down Bellarmine 63-45 to remain undefeated

Grant Grubbsby:Grant Grubbs11/17/22

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Kentucky women’s basketball is heading to the Bahamas undefeated.

On Thursday evening, the Wildcats (4-0) defeated the Bellarmine Knights 63-45 (0-3). The win is Kentucky’s fourth this season and second over an in-state opponent. Although it wasn’t always pretty, the ‘Cats got the job done.

One bright spot for the ‘Cats was Blair Green, who recorded 15 points and five rebounds in the win. The Harlan County native connected on 6-15 of her attempts from the field and 2-7 from downtown. Green’s 15 points are a season-high, outshining her 13-point performance against Morehead State.

Kentucky team’s statistics weren’t as thrilling as Green’s individual performance. UK shot a poor 21-67 (31%) from the field and an even worse 3-24 (13%) from beyond the arc. To pile on, the Knights outscored the ‘Cats in the paint. In spite of all Kentucky’s wrong turns, they ended at the right destination. Here’s how they did it.

Shaking off the rust

Kentucky’s four-day break was evident early. The team began the game 0-6 from the floor. Although shots eventually fell, they certainly didn’t come easy. The ‘Cats finished the period, shooting 3-18 and 0-6 from beyond the arc.

Once again, Kentucky’s defense was the savior. The Wildcats ran their typical full-court press to cause nine Bellarmine turnovers in 10 minutes. Head coach Kyra Elzy is proud of her defense and knows how much the team depends on it.

“You got to hang your hat on the defensive end because when you have a shooting night like tonight, you must rely on your defense and score easy opportunities,” Elzy said during the postgame press conference.

Despite a sloppy quarter, the ‘Cats went into the second frame with a 12-9 lead.

Kentucky catches fire

No matter how ugly Kentucky’s first quarter was, Bellarmine’s second quarter was uglier. The Knights only scored eight points in the frame, shooting 3-14 from the field. Moreover, the team choked away another nine possessions.

On a better note, Kentucky looked like a new team in the second frame. The ‘Cats began the period on a 14-2 run and closed the frame with nine unanswered points. Green and Robyn Benton were key in the Wildcats’ explosive quarter.

The two graduate students combined for 13 points while not missing a shot. In the blink of an eye, Kentucky held a commanding 37-17 lead.

A disappointing second half

Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, the halftime break seemed to halt their momentum. Bellarmine outscored UK in the third period 16-15. Kentucky’s lack of scoring was largely due to an inefficient perimeter game. The ‘Cats shot 1-6 from 3-point land in the third period.

Things hit a low when Kentucky missed seven straight shot attempts. After the game, Green discussed the unproductive period.

“We came out kind of flat and just started thinking about our shots too much and not really doing what we needed to do,” Green said following the win. “We’re a lot better team than what we showed tonight.”

While it wasn’t Kentucky’s best work, their third-period performance was enough to help them maintain a 52-33 advantage and head into the final 10 minutes of the contest with hopes for a better showing. Sadly, the ‘Cats failed to reach this goal.

Kentucky hit just one of their 14 attempts in the final frame. To pile on, they didn’t make a single field goal in the closing seven minutes of the contest. Once again, the fourth quarter was a chance for the freshmen to get minutes. Once again, the freshmen didn’t impress.

Saniah Tyler failed to score while Amiya Jenkins, Cassidy Rowe and Zennia Thomas combined for a mere four points. When the miserable minutes dwindled to an end, Kentucky walked away with a 63-45 victory.

Kentucky WBB’s statistics

Kentucky’s 63 points are a season-low by a significant margin. The Wildcats’ lowest-scoring game before Thursday was against Morehead State when they scored 73 points. While one may attribute the low total to Bellarmine’s defense, they wouldn’t be correct.

On Nov. 7, LSU thrashed the Knights in a 125-50 blowout. Suddenly, an 18-point victory isn’t so satisfying. This comparison becomes more concerning when you realize Kentucky excelled in other categories.

For example, the ‘Cats only committed 13 turnovers tonight compared to their 17.7 average turnovers per game this season. Moreover, the ‘Cats didn’t share the ball. The team dropped 20 assists tonight, more than their already spectacular season average.

Despite the team’s inefficient shooting, the ‘Cats had three players score double figures: Green, Benton and Jada Walker. Benton recorded 11 points in spite of shooting 0-7 from deep. Walker added 14 points and seven rebounds to the team’s effort.

If Kentucky needs a change of environment, they’re in luck. The UK’s next game won’t be in Memorial Coliseum. In fact, it won’t be in the United States. On Nov. 21, Kentucky will take on No. 14 Virginia Tech in the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship in Nassau, Bahamas. The contest will be broadcast on FloHoops.

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