Carly Ormerod's face was red from frustration and anger. She bit at her lower lip over and over again in front of the microphone.
On Senior Night, the Kentucky senior had just played one of her best games of the season, but it still wasn't enough as Georgia snapped its five-game losing streak by topping the Cats 61-57 at Memorial Coliseum.
"We could have pulled it out; we should have pulled it out, even though we played terrible," said Ormerod, who had 11 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
Coach Matthew Mitchell was as frustrated as his senior guard.
"It's so sad to see a player fighting that hard and give that kind of effort and everybody else just kind of sleepwalking through the game," he said.
Georgia (16-12, 6-7 Southeastern Conference) had its own version of Ormerod in sophomore guard Ashley Houts, who scored a career-best 26 points to go with four assists and three steals.
"They had a player in Ashley Houts that would not let them lose," Mitchell said.
After Kentucky cut the Bulldogs' lead to one point late in the second half, Houts scored 12 of Georgia's final 15 points.
"She's been money throughout her career," Coach Andy Landers said of Houts, who made nine of 10 free throws. "We've got confidence in the fact that that's a situation she enjoys being in."
Houts credited her teammates with gutting out the win despite being down starter Christy Marshall, who stayed home for academic reasons.
"We pulled together there at the end as a team and fought as hard as we could and didn't want to give up," Houts said. "We came away with a good win against a good team at their place."
The Bulldogs' defense — specifically a two-three zone in the first half — held UK to its lowest shooting percentage (31.3 percent) in conference play. The Cats' low for the season was 21 percent at Xavier in early December.
"Defensively, we did what we wanted to do with the inside players and the outside players," Landers said.
Kentucky (14-14, 4-9) fell behind by as many as 14 points in the first half and made just 24 percent of its shots (7-for-29).
The Cats missed 15 of their first 18 shots and were held more than five minutes without a field goal early in the first half, allowing the Bulldogs to use a 14-2 run to grab a 22-8 lead with nine minutes left in the first half.
"We needed to win this game and we didn't make it happen in the first half and that's where we lost the game, in the first half," said Ormerod, who struggled at times to find her shot as well, making just four of 15.
Outside of Victoria Dunlap, UK's other top five scorers shot a combined 12-for- 40. Dunlap finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
"It got real mental for us," Mitchell said. "Our team really went into a real shell there offensively and was looking around for people to do it."
The Cats missed their first 14 three-pointers before Amber Smith made two straight to cut the deficit to three points with 42 seconds left.
The sophomore missed a game-tying three-pointer next. An Ormerod drive with 12 seconds remaining cut the lead to two, but the Cats missed two straight lay-ins and Houts' two free throws iced the game with 10.5 seconds left.
Even though Kentucky nearly pulled out the win despite trailing by as many as 14 in the first half, Mitchell wasn't pleased with his team's effort.
"We never seemed to have a lot of pep and energy tonight, which is just incredible," he said. "I can't explain it. I take it very personally. I feel real responsible for it."
With just one regular-season game at South Carolina remaining, Kentucky still has a lot of growing to do, Ormerod said.
"We've got to learn to start playing 40 minutes." she said.
The senior was then asked if it was too late in the season to learn that lesson.
"No, not at all," she said. "The season's not even close to being over."
UK scores, schedule
Date Opponent Time/result
Nov. 5 x-KY. STATE W, 99-28
Nov. 9 x-BELLARMINE W, 72-69
Nov. 15 MICHIGAN L, 70-60
Nov. 17 CINCINNATI W, 58-55
Nov. 23 GEORGE WASHINGTON W, 67-48
Nov. 28 y-Yale W, 87-82
Nov. 29 y-Long Island W, 46-43
Dec. 2 at Xavier L, 67-40
Dec. 4 at Western Kentucky L, 66-57
Dec. 6 FURMAN W, 74-35
Dec. 12 EAST TENNESSEE ST. L, 59-50
Dec. 14 at Louisville L, 79-50
Dec. 19 ALABAMA A&M W, 65-45
Dec. 21 at Cal-Santa Barbara W, 69-58
Dec. 30 IUPUI W, 82-60
Jan. 1 NORTH CAROLINA A&T W, 72-63
Jan. 3 at Miami (Ohio) W, 80-55
Jan. 8 at Tennessee L, 69-64
Jan. 11 ARKANSAS W, 72-63
Jan. 15 at Alabama W, 67-57
Jan. 18 MISSISSIPPI ST. L, 52-45
Jan. 25 LOUISIANA ST. L, 59-56
Jan. 29 at Florida L, 79-59
Feb. 1 at Mississippi L, 69-60
Feb. 5 SOUTH CAROLINA W, 61-47
Feb. 8 VANDERBILT L, 72-62
Feb. 12 at Auburn L, 81-69
Feb. 19 TENNESSEE W, 66-56
Feb. 22 at Louisiana St. L, 57-56
Feb. 26 GEORGIA L, 61-57
March 1 at South Carolina 3 p.m.
x-exhibition y-Long Island Turkey Classic at Brooklyn, N.Y.