The women’s basketball team is not leaving 2017 on a high note. The Wildcats were defeated by the No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers 63-49 in their SEC opener. Their record is now 8-7 on the season.
Kentucky lagged behind the Lady Vols early, and they were never able to fully recover. In the first quarter, the Wildcats made just one of their first nine attempts, and senior Alyssa Rice picked up a quick two fouls in the first six minutes. Junior Maci Morris was injured during a run-in with a Tennessee player, and she spent the remainder of the quarter receiving treatment in the locker room. By the end of the quarter, Kentucky trailed 26-7.
“Give Tennessee a lot of credit,” Coach Matthew Mitchell said after the game. “They came out with a lot of energy in that first quarter, and it was something we couldn’t come back from.”
In the second quarter, Morris returned, playing the remainder of the game with a bandage above her left eye. The Cats were able to cut the lead to 16 points, but ended the half down 36-20.
Kentucky never gave up, but they were unable to ever cut the lead to closer than 14 points.
Morris was the only player to reach double-digits in scoring, finishing the game with 16 points. Freshman Dorie Harrison added nine points, while Rice contributed six points and a team-high eight rebounds. Point guard Taylor Murray struggled, finishing with four points on 2-12 shooting along with four rebounds, three assists and two turnovers in 37 minutes.
While Kentucky clearly struggled against a dominating Tennessee offense, there were a few bright spots for the Wildcats. While UK turned the ball over just 12 times , they forced the Volunteers into committing 21 turnovers. Unfortunately, Kentucky lacked the efficiency needed to capitalize off of these mistakes, scoring just eight points off of UT’s 21 miscues.
Despite the disappointment of today’s loss – the team’s sixth consecutive loss – Mitchell believes 2018 will be different.
“I just want to say that it was a very good crowd today and I appreciate everyone for coming out on New Year’s Eve,” Mitchell said. “We didn’t give them much to cheer about, but brighter days are ahead in 2018.”
Kentucky will travel to Texas A&M Thursday at 7 p.m. They will return to Memorial Coliseum Sunday January 7 at 2 p.m. to face-off against the University of Georgia.