After winning three consecutive conference games, the Kentucky women’s basketball team couldn’t sustain the heat, falling 72-70 to LSU inside Rupp Arena. The Cats are now 12-12 on the season and 4-6 in the SEC. You can catch up on the nitty-gritty of the game by reading Karly’s article here, but first, read up on why Kentucky didn’t come up with the W.
Cats couldn’t finish in fourth
The Wildcats have become accustomed to bringing their best in the fourth quarter, and they did so again today. After shooting woes in the first half – Kentucky hit just 13.3 percent from the field in the first quarter – the Cats entered halftime trailing 38-26. At the beginning of the final period, LSU led by eight points, which Kentucky slowly chipped away at throughout the quarter. With just 18 seconds remaining, the Cats were down by one, setting up Maci Morris for the game-tying shot. But it wasn’t meant to be, as the junior’s shot rimmed out at the last second.
But, according to Coach Matthew Mitchell, Morris’ long-two wasn’t the plan.
“When she missed that one, what I was hoping was that Taylor [Murray] could go to the bucket, but I will have to look and see where that was, but we kind of kicked it over flat,” Mitchell said. “What we wanted is if she turned the corner and laid it up it’s on the attack. If she couldn’t do that, get into a dribble hand-off so Amanda [Paschal] is now going off the attack. We kind of dribbled it in, kicked it into a standing-still to Amanda. So, it wasn’t that great of a look.”
Morris finished with a team-high 17 points, but that missed bucket at the end was the one that really mattered.
And although the fourth quarter was a strong one for the Cats, it just came too late.
“One thing we’ve been trying to do in the past couple of games is come out with a lot of energy, and we just didn’t have that in the first quarter,” point guard Taylor Murray, who finished with 16 points and six assists, said after the game. “Once you do that, you have to make up for all that, so we need to do a better job coming up and sticking with that energy and playing like we did in the third and fourth quarter.”
Speaking of energy…
Statistically speaking, Kentucky finished the game fairly evenly with the Tigers, and, in some aspects, the Cats even showed more efficiency than their opponent. On the game, UK shot 52 percent from the field, while LSU hit just 44 percent. From behind-the-arc, the margin of victory for the Wildcats was even greater: Kentucky went 7-18 for 39 percent, while the Tigers finished 2-15 for 13 percent. Both teams hit 82 percent from the free-throw line.
So how’d Kentucky lose? According to Mitchell, his team was “out-hustled.”
“[LSU] played a lot harder than we did, looked like they wanted the game a little bit more than we did and that is a bitter pill to swallow looking at where we’re at in our season in trying to make some progress forward,” the head coach said. “I’m a little bit disappointed today because the game came down to effort and we didn’t give everything that we had.”
The Cats’ lack-luster spirit began at tip-off, when the Tigers capitalized off of Kentucky’s 0-9 early shooting performance to build a quick 6-0 lead. Though they eventually cut the lead to just one point, the Cats never controlled this game.
“We were getting outrebounded and outhustled from the jump ball,” Mitchell said. “On the boards, it was just a day where there was no mystery to this game. They are a good team: strong, big and have some great athletes, and your effort had to exceed theirs. We didn’t get that done which makes it very disappointing.”
The boards did show a huge disadvantage for the Cats: Kentucky got outrebounded 35-23, including 18-5 off the offensive glass. And while the team’s turnover numbers are fairly close (15 for the Cats, 12 for the Tigers), it was LSU’s ability to capitalize off of these miscues that pushed them ahead. The Tigers scored 21 points off of Kentucky turnovers, while the Cats only earned 13 such points.
It was definitely a game they could have won and should have won,” Mitchell said. “So, we need to build on that, we’re definitely a lot better than we were a month and a half ago. We need to come back tough and see if we can strengthen our minds in what will be a very physical and tough game Thursday night.
Like Coach Mitchell said, the Cats will be back in action on Thursday to visit Missouri. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.