The first game of the new year produced a result that became all too familiar for the Kentucky women’s basketball team in December.
Hoping to turn the page after six straight losses to close 2017, the Cats instead saw their skid get extended to seven in a 74-70 loss at No. 19 Texas A&M on Thursday night.
It’s the program’s longest losing streak since the Bernadette Mattox era. The last time the Cats (8-8, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) lost this many in a row was in 2001-02, when the slide topped out at 13 consecutive games.
“We’ve had a tough, tough stretch here,” Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said in a postgame interview with WLAP-AM. “We’ve got to keep battling and keep fighting and try to get better.”
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The Cats had no answer for Texas A&M lefty sharpshooter Danni Williams or A&M center Khaalia Hillsman.
Hillsman had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Williams shot 5-for-8 from three-point range and scored 19 points.
Freshman guard Chennedy Carter added 14 points for the Aggies (12-4, 1-1), and forward Anriel Howard had 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Kentucky’s Maci Morris led all scorers with 22 points on 9-for-18 shooting. She added four assists and three rebounds.
Makenzie Cann hit four threes and scored 14 points, and Alyssa Rice had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Cats, who were much more competitive than they were in a 63-49 loss to Tennessee on Sunday.
“We’ve been going at each other’s necks (in practice) and were ready to battle today,” Morris said. “I think we pushed through and showed a lot more heart this game that we did our last. I was really happy with our performance even though we came up short.”
Unlike some of his team’s losses, Mitchell said the Cats’ errors were “more mental than physical.” He pointed to offensive rebounds Texas A&M was able secure in the final possessions of the game.
“We just could not get critical rebounds at critical times,” he said. “The margin of error was thin tonight, and we couldn’t get over the hump.”
Mitchell saw a silver lining in Kentucky’s shooting. The Cats went 7-for-18 (38.9 percent) from three-point range and 44.3 percent overall.
“We’ve been shooting the ball miserably,” he said, “so definitely, that was an improvement.”
Kentucky dropped to 0-5 this season against teams in The Associated Press Top 25. The Cats have six more games against teams that are currently ranked.
The Cats will look to end their longest streak in 16 years when they play host to Georgia (12-2, 0-1) on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Georgia at Kentucky
2 p.m. Sunday (SEC Network Plus)