UK Women's Basketball

Kentucky women fend off Mississippi 74-68

Victoria Dunlap
Victoria Dunlap

Kentucky has a flair for drama on the road.

For the second time in the past week, the No. 17 Cats trailed by double digits in the second half only to use defense to fuel a big comeback and win.

This time it was 74-68 at Ole Miss to give Kentucky its fifth straight victory and its third straight road win.

The Rebels led by as many as 11 points midway through the second half before UK turned up the defensive heat, forcing 12 turnovers in 12 minutes, which fueled a 19-4 run to put the Cats ahead.

Jennifer O'Neill's three-pointer with seven minutes to play put the Cats ahead for good.

Ole Miss (9-10, 2-5 Southeastern Conference), which had just five turnovers at the half, coughed the ball up 18 times in the second half.

Despite having just two points and no field goals in the first half, UK's Victoria Dunlap scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead the Cats (16-4, 5-2). She moved up to No. 3 on UK's all-time scoring list as well.

O'Neill added 10 points and A'dia Mathies had nine points and five steals.

In the first half, the Rebels led by as many as 11 points late. Their two-three zone, a formation that has caused UK trouble much of the season, bothered the Cats. It helped stifle Dunlap, the SEC's leading scorer averaging 17.3 points.

The senior forward and reigning SEC Player of the Year missed all five of her shot attempts in the first half and turned it over four times.

By contrast, Ole Miss's Shae Nelson didn't miss many. Before the break, the freshman made five three-pointers and scored 17 points. She finished with 22 points.

Valencia McFarland added 21 points and Kayla Melson 17 points and six boards for the Rebels.

The Cats would have gone into the locker room trailing by their largest margin, 36-25, if not for Bernisha Pinkett's three-point heave at the buzzer that fell through and provided a glimmer of hope for Kentucky.

Kentucky cut the lead to four points with a quick 6-2 spurt out of the locker room, but Ole Miss responded with a 9-2 burst to extend its lead back to 11 points.

Keyla Snowden, in her first significant minutes in more than two weeks as she battles a stress fracture in her toe, had eight points at the half to lead UK, which shot 32.3 percent from the field to 52 percent for the Rebels, who were coming off an upset win on the road at No. 23 Arkansas.

Before that victory, Ole Miss had dropped four straight in the conference.