On Sunday, Kentucky Women’s Basketball went on the road and embarrassed Arkansas in front of its 8th-largest crowd in program history.
The Wildcats (13-11) dominated the Arkansas Razorbacks (16-10) from start to finish in a 78-55 victory. This is Kentucky’s fourth win in a row, increasing their conference record to 6-8. The ‘Cats were carried to a victory by a stunning performance from Rhyne Howard.
During the contest, Howard dropped 29 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes of play. Moreover, Howard was extremely efficient, shooting 9-16 from the field and 5-10 from beyond the arc.
The rest of the ‘Cats followed Howard’s lead. As a team, UK shot 28-64 (44%) from the field and 10-22 (45%) from deep. The team’s 10 3-pointers are the second-most UK has made in a game this season. Kentucky put on one of their most impressive performances of the season, and they didn’t wait to get started.
Fiery first quarter for Kentucky WBB
Kentucky shot out of the starting gate like a rocket. The team was 5-6 from 3-point range in the first period. Howard led the squad with 11 first-quarter points, going 3-3 from deep.
When asked about her explosive first quarter, Howard was frank.
“We knew that it was gonna be a good game. So you know, somebody had to get hot before they got hot, and I decided it would be me,” Howard said during the postgame press conference.
Howard wasn’t the only ‘Cat who had a hot start. Dre’Una Edwards scored seven points in the first 10 minutes of the contest. Fueled by their stars, Kentucky took a commanding 23-14 lead into the second period.
The ‘Cats stay hot
Kentucky carried its momentum into the second frame. The ‘Cats ran off 10-straight points, capped off by an impressive fastbreak layup by Howard. The reigning SEC Player of the Year had 16 points in the first half.
Nonetheless, Arkansas’ super senior was putting on a show of her own. Amber Ramirez had 12 points by halftime and was 3-6 from deep. With her final 3-pointer in the half, Ramirez eclipsed 250 career 3-pointers.
While the first half was a shootout, Kentucky also did the dirty work. The ‘Cats nearly doubled Arkansas’ offensive rebounds in the first half. With everything going right, Kentucky strolled into the break ahead 40-29.
Kentucky WBB extend the lead
The halftime break didn’t slow down Kentucky, much to Arkansas’ chagrin. In fact, it did just the opposite. After having a slow start to the period, Kentucky went on a 10-0 run. Of course, the Wildcats’ defense was as vital to the stretch as their offense.
Kentucky held the Razorback scoreless for over five minutes. While Arkansas couldn’t find a basket, the ‘Cats couldn’t find a miss. Robyn Benton scored eight points in the third period, including two 3-pointers.
The senior guard has struggled offensively since returning from her ankle injury. Nonetheless, Benton found her footing on Sunday. Head coach Kyra Elzy gave her thoughts on Benton’s performance after the contest.
“It was huge for us but also huge for her. It’s tough coming back from an injury, trying to find your way and where you fit offensively,” Elzy said. “It was good to see the ball go in the basket for her today.”
To pile on, Howard had another fantastic period. The 6-foot-2 senior recorded nine points in the frame. The ‘Cats went into the final 10 minutes of the contest with a commanding 66-44 lead.
Running out the Razorbacks
Kentucky’s fourth quarter wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t need to be. UK narrowly outscored the Razorbacks in the final period 12-11. The ‘Cats shot 2-13 from the field in the frame.
Luckily for UK, Arkansas didn’t shoot much better. The Razorback went 3-11 from the field in the fourth quarter. Failing to make any miracles happen, Arkansas fell to Kentucky 78-55.
There were few facets of the game where Kentucky dominates. The ‘Cats had twice as many points off turnovers as Arkansas. In addition, Kentucky outrebounded the Razorbacks 44-33. To top it off, Kentucky had 29 bench points compared to the Razorbacks mere nine points from their reserves.
UK had several players with exceptional performances outside of Howard. Dre’Una Edwards had a monster day, recording 17 points and 13 rebounds. Benton had 11 points in just 16 minutes of play. Today was the first time Benton has scored double figures since Jan. 9 against South Carolina.
Understandably, Elzy was ecstatic with her team’s performance.
“We’re seeing the fruits of our labor. It’s good to see our team come out on top, and this is a signature win for our program that we needed.”
Kentucky will get a well-deserved four-day break before its next game. The ‘Cats will face Missouri on Thursday at 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+.