Despite nearly being back at full health, playing in Memorial Coliseum and coming off a week-long break, Kentucky Women’s Basketball fell for the third game in a row.
On Sunday, the Wildcats (9-10) lost in a nail-biting 73-64 overtime finish to the Texas A&M Aggies (13-9). After the loss, Kentucky is now 2-7 in conference play. Worse, they now sit at 12th in the SEC standings.
While Kentucky undoubtedly had a lot going for them, they were still missing Robyn Benton. The senior guard hasn’t played since she suffered an ankle injury on Jan. 20 against Florida.
As usual, All-American Rhyne Howard led Kentucky. The 6-foot-2 star dropped 19 points and 10 rebounds while going 5-14 from the field. Howard played a season-high 44 minutes for the ‘Cats.
As a team, UK shot 23-59 (39%) from the field and 5-17 (29%) from beyond the arc. For the second time this season, Kentucky committed more than 20 turnovers. Here’s how the Aggies ruined the Wildcats’ weekend.
Fiery first frame for Kentucky WBB
The Wildcats had one of their best periods of the season to begin the game. In the first 10 minutes, Kentucky shot 12-18 from the field.
Head coach Kyra Elzy discussed her team’s hot start after the game.
“In the first quarter, I thought we pushed in transition. I thought we attacked early,” Elzy said during the postgame press conference. “We play well out of the ball screen offensively, which we had worked on.”
Scoring was seemingly coming from everywhere for Kentucky. Five ‘Cats scored in the first quarter alone; Jada Walker led the group with nine points on a perfect 4-4 clip. Moreover, UK finished the period on an 8-0 run.
The ‘Cats were clicking, and the score reflected it. UK strolled into the second period ahead 26-15.
Slowing things down
The second frame couldn’t have been more different than the first. UK went 2-11 from the field, not converting their first field goal until two minutes were left in the half. Howard didn’t shoot once in the period.
Likewise, Texas A&M’s struggles persisted. The Aggies shot an even worse 2-14 from the field in the second frame. Nonetheless, the ‘Cats found redemption at the end of the half.
Kentucky rattled off six unanswered points to close out the period. With their few baskets, Kentucky miraculously outscored the Aggies 6-5 in the frame, taking a 32-20 lead into the break.
Another ugly stretch for the ‘Cats
Kentucky’s sluggish second period carried over into the second half. Texas A&M began the third period with a 10-2 run. Kentucky couldn’t find a basket anywhere, even from their star player. Howard missed her first four attempts in the frame.
Elzy spoke on her team’s offensive woes with the media.
“We were a little stagnant, we took quick shots, and we didn’t have ball movement or player movement,” Elzy said.
Things went from bad to worse for Kentucky. With 5:11 left in the third quarter, Jada Walker was subbed out after getting hit by a hard screen. Walker didn’t return to the game.
Kentucky eventually scored but not enough. With two players posting more than five points in the period, the Aggies outscored Kentucky 19-9 in the quarter.
Frantic final minutes
The fourth period could have given sloths heart attacks. Kentucky made its fair share of mistakes to begin the quarter, committing three turnovers in two minutes.
Due to the team’s miscues, Kentucky only had one shot in the first three minutes of the period. Consequently, Texas A&M ran off six-straight points. Destiny Pitts powered the team’s offensive barrage.
The guard scored eight points in a row for the Aggies, six of which came from beyond the arc. Nevertheless, Pitts wasn’t the only player who stepped up in crunch time.
Rhyne Howard scored five-straight points for the ‘Cats to give UK a two-point lead with a minute left. But the Aggies managed to answer. With 30 seconds left, the final shot was in Kentucky’s hands.
However, the ‘Cats couldn’t convert. After calling a timeout with 5.2 seconds left, Kentucky found nothing in the closing seconds of the game. Howard clanked a deep 3-pointer off the front end of the rim and just like that, the teams were heading to overtime tied at 55.
Free basketball cost Kentucky WBB
The ‘Cats should’ve taken the Aggies out when they had the chance. Texas A&M took the court in overtime with a vengeance.
In the extra five minutes, Texas A&M doubled UK’s points. Moreover, they did it with style. The Aggies were 4-6 in extra time, while Kentucky shot a poor 2-7.
Similar to the second frame, Howard didn’t score in overtime. Meanwhile, Pitts continued to perform as the Aggies’ standout performer, scoring six points in the final five minutes.
When the dust settled, Texas A&M defeated Kentucky 73-64. Looking at the stat sheet, the ‘Cats beat themselves. Despite having more bench production and snagging more rebounds than the Aggies, UK found a way to lose.
One thing Kentucky didn’t lack was a balanced offense. Jazmine Massengill scored 11 points for UK on 4-8 shooting. Redshirt junior Dre’Una Edwards added a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. Treasure Hunt and Walker contributed a combined 18 points, as well.
Kentucky has no choice but to use this loss as a lesson and move forward. The ‘Cats better learn a lot in the next four days as the team faces No. 1 South Carolina on Thursday at home.
“We understand the expectation and standard at Kentucky, and that’s winning,” Elzy said. “We just have to figure out a way to get it done.“
Thursday’s tipoff is set for 7 p.m. EST in Memorial Coliseum. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.