After a tough few weeks for the UK Women’s Basketball team, which included overtime losses to both Louisville and Arizona State, UK Hoops is back on track. The Cats redeemed themselves tonight with a 59-36 victory over the Radford University Highlanders.
Although the Cats held a comfortable lead over the Highlanders for most of the game, the loss of sophomore point guard Taylor Murray was noticeable. With just an hour before tip-off, the Kentucky Women’s Basketball twitter account reported that Murray would miss today’s game due to injury. It was later released that Murray is suffering from a broken left pinky. According to UK, she will also likely be out for Wednesday’s game against Washington State.
Murray, who has been averaging 12.7 points per game, was replaced by freshman Jaida Roper in the starting lineup and by Maci Morris as the stand-in point guard. Coming off a career-high 29 points in last Sunday’s game against Arizona State, Morris continued to compete today, scoring seven points and dishing out four assists. Jaida Roper held her own after her first career start, ending the night with two points and four assists. Fellow freshman Paige Poffenberger also got her first big minutes of the season. She excelled on defense, while adding two points and three rebounds. Mackenzie Cann went 3-7 from behind the arc (42.9 percent), and Alyssa Rice finished with nine points, nine rebounds and three assists.
But the two biggest contributors of the day were Evelyn Akhator and Makayla Epps. All season, these two seniors have carried their team. Tonight, they combined for 26 points, 12 rebounds and just two turnovers.
Defensively, Kentucky smothered Radford. Their three leading scorers, Destinee Walker, Jayda Worthy and Janayla White, have all been averaging over ten points per game so far this season. Today however, they were held to six, two and six points, respectively. The Highlanders shot just 26.4 percent from the floor, while the Cats shot 36.9 percent.
UK Hoops will be back in Memorial Coliseum this Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 12:00 noon against Washington State.