The University of Kentucky women’s basketball team was defeated by Missouri, 70-68, in overtime on Friday, in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at Greenville, S.C.
Missouri, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, has won four straight games and advances to play No. 1 seed Mississippi State in the semifinals on Saturday.
Kentucky, the No. 4 seed, finishes its season with a 24-7 record and now awaits Selection Monday (March 18) when the Wildcats will learn their destination for the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman Rhyne Howard led the Wildcats with 25 points. Her three-point attempt just before the buzzer in overtime — which would have won the game — rimmed out from the left wing.
Howard, who this week was named to the All-SEC First Team and earned the conference’s Freshman of the Year award, hit 11 of 19 shots and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. It was her ninth 20-point game of the year and the fifth time she’s scored 25 or more.
Howard’s miss at the buzzer was one of many Kentucky three-point attempts to come up short on the afternoon. The Wildcats went 0-for-16 from behind the arc and shot 32 percent from the field overall.
Those shooting woes proved too much to overcome for Kentucky, which stayed in the game in part by forcing 26 Missouri turnovers and converting them into 22 points. The Wildcats turned the ball over nine times.
Taylor Murray had 14 points, four assists and six steals for the Cats, while Maci Morris hit two of 12 shots from the field and all four of her free-throw attempts for eight points. Morris, who also was named to the All-SEC First Team, added five rebounds, four steals and a block. Sophomore forward Tatyana Wyatt scored 11 points and had four rebounds for the Cats.
It was the second straight game the Cats have been without starting forward KeKe McKinney. The sophomore was held out of the regular-season finale at Georgia with an undisclosed injury.
Missouri was led by Sophie Cunningham, who scored 29 points on 7-of-12 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds. The First Team All-SEC guard had seven of Missouri’s 11 points in overtime. She scored with 55 seconds left to put the Tigers up 65-63 and they never trailed from there.
Arkansas 95, South Carolina 89: Chelsea Dungee scored 31 points and Arkansas upset No. 12 South Carolina on Friday to end the Gamecocks’ run of four straight SEC Tournament titles. The Razorbacks (19-14) are the first No. 10 seed to reach the SEC semifinals since 1993.
Mississippi St. 83, Tennessee 63: Anriel Howard scored 26 points and Teaira McCowan had her 25th double-double of the season as No. 5 Mississippi State opened its SEC Tournament run with a blowout of the Volunteers. McCowan, the SEC Player of the Year, finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. The top-seeded Bulldogs have lost in the conference championship game each of the past three seasons.
Mississippi State (28-2) forced 26 turnovers to turn a close game into a runaway with a 24-7 surge over the final eight minutes of the second quarter. Tennessee came into the matchup averaging nearly 16 turnovers a game and committed 15 in the first 20 minutes.
Evina Westbrook had 19 points to lead the Volunteers, who are firmly on the NCAA bubble at 19-12. Tennessee has never missed an NCAA Tournament since the event began in the 1981-82 season.