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RECAP: Kentucky WBB dismantled in an 86-72 loss to Iowa

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

If you were hoping for a happy ending to the Kentucky Women’s Basketball team’s season, I have some bad news for you.

In the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats were dismantled by the Iowa Hawkeyes in a painful 86-72 loss. The loss against Iowa will be Kentucky’s last outing of the season and finalizes their 2020-2021 record at 18-9.

All afternoon, Kentucky struggled to find a way to contain Iowa’s high-powered offense. More specifically, Kentucky failed to find any counter to Iowa’s freshman star, Caitlin Clark. Clark lit up the Wildcats for 35 points, seven rebounds and six assists. In turn, Rhyne Howard recorded 28 points on 8/21 shooting. What was expected to be a highly contested battle ended up as a deafening defeat for the Wildcats.

As fired up as the Wildcats may have been coming into the game, they started the contest freezing cold. Iowa began the game on an 11-0 run. Nearly five minutes had passed before Blair Green was able to find the first basket for the ‘Cats.

Once Kentucky got on the board, the scoring didn’t stop. Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, Iowa didn’t slow down either. The Hawkeyes continued to build upon their lead and finished the first period leading 23-11.

Caitlin Clark was decimating the Wildcats’ defense. The star freshman dropped 11 points in just the first quarter. Meanwhile, Howard only scored two points in the first 10 minutes. Howard wasn’t losing in the clash of the titans, she was getting embarrassed.

Things only got worse for the ‘Cats in the second period. Iowa began the quarter on a 7-0 run. Not only were the Hawkeyes dismantling Kentucky defensively, but on the offensive end too.

Against the worst defensive team in the country, Kentucky only scored 22 points in the half. Iowa’s average opponent scores 80 points per game. Howard was the only player on Kentucky to score more than five points in the first half.

Furthermore, she continued to defer to Clark. Instead of stepping up and defending the human-inferno we call Caitlin Clark, she allowed other teammates to attempt to guard her. Keyword being attempt.

I realize that conserving energy is important, but March is win or go home time and at the rate the Wildcats were moving, they were going home.

Iowa headed into the half leading 49-22. Clark single-handedly outscored the Wildcats, dropping 24 points through the first two quarters. In fairness to Kentucky, it wasn’t from a lack of trying.

The fast-paced contest led to the Wildcats getting up 37 shot attempts in the first two frames. However, they only made eight of them. The Wildcats couldn’t hit the ocean if they were standing on the beach.

Despite being all over the offensive glass with 12 offensive boards in the first half, the Wildcats were failing to capitalize on second chances. Quite frankly, there wasn’t much good to say about the Wildcats after the first two periods.

Kentucky came out hungry in the third period. The Wildcats went on an 11-0 run early in the quarter, but still only cut Iowa’s lead to 18. As hard as the Wildcats tried to continue to narrow the lead, it seemed like Iowa had all the answers.

The press from UK was causing issues for Iowa, but occasionally led to wide-open looks for the Hawkeyes. The fourth quarter was going to be less about the score and more about pride. The ‘Cats headed into the final frame down 70-46.

Kentucky kept on battling throughout the fourth period, but they may as well have been throwing buckets of water on a forest fire. Iowa’s lead had spread out of control and there was no stopping it.

To pile on, Clark’s endless barrage of buckets wasn’t going away. The six-foot guard broke the record for most points ever by an Iowa player in the NCAA Tournament and dropped the most points by a player in the 2021 NCAA tournament yet.

Kentucky fought valiantly in the second half, but their fate had been decided in the first few minutes. If there was one thing people had said could not happen against Iowa, it was the ‘Cats having a slow start. Kentucky obviously failed to avoid this pitfall.

When the dust had settled from Iowa’s nuclear explosion, Kentucky had been defeated 86-72. Although Iowa had played undoubtedly well, the ‘Cats had nobody to blame but themselves.

On the game, Kentucky shot 35% from the field and 26% from deep. When examining the statistics, it becomes clear the game simply came down to scoring. The Wildcats had fewer turnovers, more offensive rebounds, more free throws, and more second-chance points than Iowa. But, it’s impossible to win without putting the ball in the basket.

With many key players returning to the ‘Cats next season, all the team can do now is use the upsetting loss as a learning experience. The team failed all year to be consistent, to rebound and stop star opponents. These will all need to be points of emphasis during the offseason to avoid repeating history.

The players aren’t the only ones who will need to use this year as a springboard. Coach Elzy’s first season is complete. Although the team was successful, there was certainly room for improvement. The Wildcats will have plenty of time to let the pain soak in as they watch the rest of the tournament play out from the sidelines. Iowa will advance to play the winner of UConn and Syracuse in the Sweet 16.

Article written by Grant Grubbs

24 Comments for RECAP: Kentucky WBB dismantled in an 86-72 loss to Iowa

  1. Dave C
    6:45 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

    Yea. If you’re gonna complain Overtly about being Disrespected and Slighted….Probably ought to show up when it counts. Great player….I just didn’t feel all the banter BEFORE she stunk it up today. Just Sayin.

  2. 3 fan
    6:51 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

    Coach Elzy should go on KSR and explain what the heck happened

    • UKFanSC
      8:50 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

      It was an uninspired effort. They didn’t show up mentally at all, missing no fewer than 6 point-blank layups in the first quarter alone. No defense at all. Lazy, embarrassing, inexcusable game. It’s the NCAA for crying out loud. Hard to fathom such a pathetic showing. It was over in a blink, the farm girls issued notice right off the bat. It was soon 34-13…… then 49-21. Then Game.

      I doubt a Mathew Mitchell team would lay down quite like this. I’ve never seen it. I also hope our new head coach can get a handle on the team next season. Too talented to get punked on national TV. Terrible way to finish a year.

  3. eyebleedblue
    6:52 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

    I like the new coach. Have they ever exceeded expectations in the tourney? I know UL sure has

    • chris43
      6:58 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

      No, the coach isn’t all that. I have no clue why she was signed to be HL before proving herself. She definitely isn’t a MM or even close. You have what’s supposed to be one of the best players in the country and a decent supporting cast BUT constantly underachieve. That’s on the coach!

    • UKgrad80
      7:21 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

      Mitch couldn’t wait to hire her because hiring a double minority was going to be a feather in his cap.

    • 44stewart
      7:33 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

      Bitter that an old white man didn’t get it.

    • 44stewart
      7:34 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

      Are you

    • UKgrad80
      11:40 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

      You are an idiot

    • sprtphan
      7:36 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

      Maybe a coach that knows what they’re doing regardless of age or race.

    • chris43
      8:44 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink


    • UKgrad80
      11:41 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink


  4. peaches76
    7:04 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

    Grant, conserving energy is important?? It’s the NCAA tournament!!! Win or go home!! You understand that now they can practice energy conservation until next year? Geez

  5. shepdog3720
    7:06 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

    This team woefully underperformed based on the talent on the roster, any idea why? By the way, this team was absolutely unprepared for this game, in my opinion.

  6. eastofmidnight
    7:13 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

    So Patterson was going to play Clark so tight that she would be able to smell what Clark had for breakfast? It seems to have been Wheaties.

  7. CALfacts
    7:22 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

    Underachieving!! This team just didn’t gel the last half of the year! Is it on the coaching staff? Sure seems so…

  8. JoeBee
    7:39 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

    The Underachievers!!!

  9. CahillsCrossingNT
    7:50 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

    First, Mitch Barnhart gives coach 9-16 a “lifetime” contract, then he hastily hires Elzy, who is clearly in over her head. Nice work Mitch.

    • Dave C
      10:08 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

      “Bitter that a old white man didn’t get it?” Brilliant. There’s obviously some SYSTEMIC reason this team under achieved. It’s not the coaches fault. Just like it’s not good enough that African Americans get a head coaching job in the NFL. The talking heads complain that they don’t get coaching jobs for “Good Teams ” DUH….Good Teams don’t have to fire their coaches!

  10. M.T.Pockets
    11:06 pm March 23, 2021 Permalink

    if a coach can’t coach defense then they can’t coach at all. how many games this year has an opposing player gotten hot and no one would even attempt to guard them? I think it was fla. that killed us with lay up after lay up. our coach is in over her head…

  11. cardsandcats
    7:47 am March 24, 2021 Permalink

    More disappointed with the women’s performance than the men’s. Howard is undoubtedly a great talent but I’ve been underwhelmed all year with her intensity level and long periods where she simply disappeared. Unfortunately when it becomes Howard time it’s too late. The team seems to lack focus and I’ve seen none of the defensive intensity that was their hallmark. I was in favor of taking the interim tag off of Elzy, but she has some soul searching to do as well, I worry that the players still view her as the “good cop” she was when she was the assistant to Mitchell, there needs to be someone on the staff to chew some butt because they lack fire. The in game adjustments when things are going poorly are on the same level as Cal’s, non-existent. There is little offensive game plan that I see other than throw up outside shots. They are a fundamentally poor rebounding team as well. Lots of work to do before I’ll buy the hype again.

  12. Bluehender
    9:17 am March 24, 2021 Permalink

    Would have been interesting to what Coach Mitchell would have done with this group. I think it was an uninspired effort and the hiring of Elzy was premature. She was definitely unproven and seems to have a problem getting her team fired up and ready to play

    • UKFanSC
      1:17 pm March 24, 2021 Permalink

      Agreed. She has shown very little that convinces me she can run a top tier program