UK Women's Basketball

Kentucky cold snap continues in Cincy

CINCINNATI — It spread like a cold virus through a day care center.

It was the clinks, the bricks, the clunks.

For more than 11 minutes of the first half, Kentucky couldn't make a basket.

For more than eight minutes of the first half, Kentucky didn't score at all.

The bad shooting was contagious. It plagued the entire team, and No. 25 Xavier took advantage to win 67-44 at the Cintas Center Tuesday night.

"We don't seem to have a lot of players out there interested in taking responsibility for their shot and scoring," Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "We're really challenged right now from that standpoint."

For the second straight game, Mitchell's club shot its season low.

Tuesday night it was 21.3 percent to an efficient 41.4 percent for the Musketeers, who won their fourth straight and helped Coach Kevin McGuff become Xavier's all-time winningest coach.

McGuff shrugged off the milestone, but was more than willing to talk about his team's defensive effort.

"Our defense is what we pride ourselves on, it really gives us an identity," McGuff said. "It really gave us a chance to have a terrific game."

An Amani Franklin baseline jumper got the Cats, who missed their first six shots of the game, within four points early, but the drought loomed.

The Musketeers tried to show UK how to score, stringing together 16 unanswered points as a part of a larger 25-4 run. It wasn't until the 4:12 mark of the first half that Kentucky was able to hit double-digit points.

"We started out strong early; we jumped on them early, but they were never really in the game," said guard Special Jennings, who had 10 points and four rebounds.

"I did see them start to get frustrated. It was hard for them to make buckets, and that took them out of their game."

The Cats missed 22 of their first 26 shot attempts in the first half before finding their touch with a late 10-0 rally to head into the locker room down 36-21.

The Cats' top two scorers, Eleia Roddy and Victoria Dunlap, labored in the first half, going a combined 0-for-13.

By the end of the game, Roddy had missed all 10 of her tries and the duo had gone 3-for-22.

"We're not going to be a very good team with three of 22 from two of our best players," Mitchell said.

Jerri Taylor led Xavier with 18 points. Center Ta'Shia Phillips added nine points and 10 rebounds.

Kentucky's shooting struggles only got worse in the second half, when it missed its first seven shots and turned the ball over five times.

The Musketeers scored nine unanswered and grabbed a 30-point lead, 53-23, on two free throws by Tyeasha Moss with 12:23 to play.

"At times we let our offensive woes effect us defensively," Mitchell said. "When you get down by 25 in a game where you thought you had a great chance to win, it really wears on you mentally. We just stopped executing."

Franklin was the only UK player to finish in double figures. She had 13 points and six rebounds.

Dunlap added nine points and eight rebounds for the Cats, who had a four-game win streak snapped.

UK doesn't have long to lick its wounds. It goes back on the road to Diddle Arena to play Western Kentucky on Thursday night.

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