No. 13 Women’s Hoops defeated the Morehead State Eagles 112-57 tonight, making history along the way.
Despite the ugly play for both teams on both sides of the ball, Kentucky came out and got an early lead. Getting up 27-12 thanks to Evelyn Akhator who played viciously, gathering six points and eight rebounds in just 10 minutes of play.
The Cats continued to stretch the lead in the second quarter, getting the lead to 54-32 at the half. The Cats out-rebounded the Eagles’ 32-22 and held them to 33% from the field, something they aren’t used to since they averaged 111 points before coming to Memorial Coliseum tonight.
The second half was much of the same story. The Cats continued to dominate both offensively and defensively. Doubling the score right before the end of the third period at 82-40 just before Morehead State responded with a three. Kentucky eventually hit the century mark in the fourth quarter, getting up 106-54 with 2:11 in the game.
Junior guard Makayla Epps was without a doubt Kentucky’s hero tonight. In her first game back in Memorial since serving her suspension and suffering a concussion before her first game Sunday against Arizona State, Epps played all forty minutes and had a triple-double.
The initial plan was not for Epps to play the entire game. It wasn’t until junior Kyvin Goodin-Rogers was unable to play due to a concussion and freshman Maci Morris fouled out in the second half that Mitchell decided to do that, claiming he didn’t want to put that much pressure on senior Janee Thompson since she is still overcoming a brutal ankle injury.
“Makayla needed to carry the heavy load tonight because she can, she’s in fantastic shape and is a smart basketball player and she can do it. We may need her to do it again,” Mitchell said.
Epps also made history tonight, becoming only the second person to hit a triple-double in Kentucky women’s basketball history. She is however the first one to do it with a combination of points, rebounds and assists (the other was points, rebounds and steals). Epps had 21 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists tonight, leading the team in assists.
The most exciting part for Epps about her triple-double? Getting to tell her father, Anthony, who is a former men’s basketball player at Kentucky. Forget about making history.
“Now I’ve got one up on my dad. I’m going to text him because he is always on me, but I’m going to tell him ‘but you’ve never got a triple-double,’” Epps said.
Besides Epps, three other players had double-doubles, for the first time in school history since 1989. Evelyn Akhator had 12 points and 16 rebounds; Alexis Jennings had 28 points and 13 rebounds; and then Epps. Janee Thompson came up one assist short of a double-double with 22 points and 9 assists. Had Thompson gotten that tenth assist it would have been the first time that women’s hoops had four players hit a double-double ever.
When it comes to other records, Kentucky tied their school record for the most rebounds in a game at 67. They also were one away from the assist record at 32.
Depsite first half woes, Kentucky still dominated on both sides of the court. The Cats outscored the Eagles in the paint 70-22 and out-rebounded them 67-42. They also forced 26 turnovers overall, turning them into 25 points.
However, Mitchell and his team are adamant that they still need to improve. Mitchell was unimpressed with his teams performance in the first half. Asserting that Morehead was playing more aggressively than they were.
“I really challenged the team to come out in the second half and be more aggressive and compete with more intensity,” Mitchell said.
And they did.
Akhator, who went down hard in the second half on her leg, will be fine after tweaking her ankle a bit. She had it wrapped tightly with ice around it and Mitchell expects to see her in practice tomorrow.
The Hoops Cats next game will be this Sunday at 2 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum against Colorado.