UK Women's Basketball

O'Neill's only three-pointer helps UK women upset No. 8 Baylor, 74-64

Kentucky Wildcats guard Jennifer O'Neill (0) grabs a loose ball before Baylor Bears guard Kristy Wallace (4) during the first half at Rupp Arena Monday, Nov. 17, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Amy Wallot
Kentucky Wildcats guard Jennifer O'Neill (0) grabs a loose ball before Baylor Bears guard Kristy Wallace (4) during the first half at Rupp Arena Monday, Nov. 17, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Amy Wallot Herald-Leader

With the ball in her hand and alone in the corner, Jennifer O'Neill pondered the 10 missed three-pointers that came before it.

Her Kentucky team was clinging to a one-point lead over No. 8 Baylor with a little more than a minute to go.

The senior guard pondered those 10 misses before, but not for too long.

She didn't let them stop her as she let the 11th one fly to help No. 13 UK topple the Bears 74-64 on Monday night in Rupp Arena.

"My teammates had a lot of belief in me, kept believing in me and I kept shooting," said O'Neill, who finished with 22 points to lead Kentucky, which clawed back from 14 points down early in the second half.

Coach Matthew Mitchell didn't think about O'Neill's 10 misses before that, he just knew that eventually one would go in.

"No doubt I was going to tell her to continue to shoot. I don't know if they're going in or not, but I'm cheering for every one," he said.

Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey, who saw O'Neill drop 43 points on the Bears during the four-overtime ice storm game in Texas last year, knew one would fall, too.

"She's going to make more than she misses if you leave her open."

But it wasn't just O'Neill and her dagger that did the Bears in, their coach said.

"Everything was going our way and we kept fighting ourselves," Mulkey said. "They ducked their head and took it right at us in the second half."

Looking out of sync and out of sorts early, UK used a 21-7 run to get back in it.

"We knew what we had to do," O'Neill said. "We knew how far we were down, but we knew the game wasn't out of reach."

Sophomore guards Makayla Epps added 12 points and Linnae Harper 11 points for the Cats, who won that four-overtime thriller over the Bears last season at AT&T Stadium as a part of a doubleheader with the UK men.

Kentucky (2-0) didn't need 43 points from her this time, but O'Neill gave the Cats enough to get some revenge on the team that knocked them out of the NCAA Tournament last season in the Sweet Sixteen.

The teams went back and forth in the second half before a three-pointer by Bria Goss — her first made basket of the game — gave UK a 57-56 lead with 7:29 to go.

Baylor went up again 64-63 with 2:34 to go before two made free throws from O'Neill put them up for good.

In the first half, which Kentucky trailed 34-24, the Cats' frontcourt struggled, scoring just one basket on a putback from Azia Bishop. The senior forward's make with 4:16 to go before the break, was just the Cats' third putback of the half.

Kentucky was outrebounded 24-16 at the half, including the Bears grabbing 17 defensive rebounds.

"At halftime, I said I don't know what's going on with you folks, what's going on in your mind," Mitchell said he told his team.

Baylor used a quick 14-4 run early to lead by as many as 12 points in the first half behind Khadijiah Cave's nine points and four rebounds. Davis added eight points and seven rebounds for the Bears, who shot 46.7 percent from the field.

"We lost our momentum after the first half," Mulkey said, noting that her younger players didn't respond to Kentucky's aggression.

A Niya Johnson driving layup early in the second half gave the Bears their largest lead, 40-26, before Kentucky showed some signs of life behind Janee Thompson.

The junior guard had the first five points of a 21-7 run that helped the Cats tie the game 47-47 with a little less than 12 minutes to go on a long jumper from O'Neill. She finished with nine points.

Baylor (1-1) was led by Nina Davis, who had 18 points and 13 rebounds. Cave added 17 points and nine boards for the Bears, who shot 39.1 percent for the game and outrebounded Kentucky 42-40.

"I'm disappointed in myself," Davis said. "I felt like there was more I could do for my team."

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