UK Women's Basketball

Kentucky women’s basketball wins at Georgia, 64-53

Georgia forward Halle Washington, front left, and Kentucky forward/center Alexis Jennings, front right, compete for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, in Athens, Ga.
Georgia forward Halle Washington, front left, and Kentucky forward/center Alexis Jennings, front right, compete for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, in Athens, Ga. AP

Although No. 10 Kentucky held the advantage for all but 16 seconds of Sunday’s Southeastern Conference game against Georgia, the Cats did everything they could to keep the Bulldogs in the hunt.

Kentucky defeated Georgia 64-53 on a day the Cats didn’t shoot terribly well (37.3 percent) but got the job done by playing sturdy defense, winning the rebounding game and connecting on 22 of 28 free throws.

“It’s always good to win down here,” Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It doesn’t happen very often.”

Heading into a conference clash with No. 2 South Carolina on Thursday, Kentucky (13-1, 2-1) claimed its second consecutive conference victory and is perhaps finally erasing the foul memory of its league-opening loss at Auburn.

“We had determination. We knew this would be a hard game and we fought through it,” freshman guard Maci Morris, who had nine points and three rebounds, said. “We still want to show that even though we lost to Auburn we were the better team. We’re just trying to pull through and win the rest of the games.”

Behind Alexis Jennings’ six points and seven rebounds, Morris’ six points and two rebounds and a massive rebounding advantage (24-15), the Cats held a 10-point edge at the half and extended it to 14 points at 44-30 at the end of the third quarter.

The Bulldogs (12-4, 0-3) began to hammer away in the fourth quarter and got within five points at the 1:43 mark on a jumper by freshman Caliya Robinson, but Kentucky connected on all 10 free throws in the final 90 seconds to escape Stegeman Coliseum with the victory.

We’ll need to grow from this one. We need to see if we can play with a little more poise and make better decisions.

Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell

“When we were able to possess the ball, we were able to get some good looks, but by the time we started taking some shots at the end of the game they had packed the lane so tight that we lost a little confidence,” Mitchell said. “We missed a lot of open looks at the end, but I think that was because Georgia had kind of gotten us in a hurry a little bit. We’ll need to grow from this one. We need to see if we can play with a little more poise and make better decisions.”

Jennings led the Cats with a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds. Makayla Epps was the high scorer with 13 points and Evelyn Akhator and Janee Thompson chipped in 10 points each. Georgia, which had no player score in double figures since last February’s loss to top-ranked South Carolina in Athens, got eight points each from Shacobia Barbee and Halle Washington.

Although the Cats had a difficult time taking care of the ball in the first quarter — they turned it over nine times — there were no challenges with sharing the ball. No less than seven Kentucky players earned first-quarter points as the Cats jumped out to a 15-11 lead. For the day, the Cats were guilty of 22 miscues, which the Bulldogs turned into 15 points.

“I was so frustrated with the turnovers because that’s something we’re trying to make sure we don’t do, but we’re struggling right now in that area and we’ve got to find some way to make better decisions,” said Mitchell.

Georgia’s Washington scored on a stickback to bring the Bulldogs to within 15-13 early in the second quarter, but Jennings scored twice and Epps added a three-pointer to extend the Cats’ lead to nine points with six minutes left.

Kentucky ascended to its highest first-half lead at the 3:16 mark of the second quarter when Janee Thompson scored on a layup to put the Cats up by 12 at 27-15. The Cats shot 39.3 percent (11 of 28) in the first half and 75 percent (3 of 4) from the three-point arc. Behind Jennings’ seven boards, the Cats owned the glass with 24 rebounds to Georgia’s 15.

The next challenge on Kentucky’s schedule is a formidable one, as the Cats host the Gamecocks (15-0, 3-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday. Jennings felt Sunday’s victory was a good building block to the next hill Kentucky must climb.

“It continues to give us confidence and we’ll approach (South Carolina) like we approach every game, which is to be very aggressive and confident, make effort plays and get the job done,” she said.

No. 10 KENTUCKY 64, GEORGIA 53

KENTUCKY

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

PF

PT

Akhator

34

3-7

4-7

10

0

2

10

Jennings

32

5-8

2-2

12

2

2

12

Thompson

37

1-11

8-8

2

4

1

10

Morris

28

3-9

0-0

3

0

0

9

Epps

33

4-7

4-4

4

3

2

13

Camara

6

0-1

1-2

3

0

2

1

Murray

22

1-6

3-5

5

1

3

5

Rice

8

2-2

0-0

1

0

1

4

Totals

200

19-51

22-28

45

10

13

64

Percentages: FG .373, FT .786. 3-Point Goals: 4-11, .364 (Morris 3-4, Epps 1-2, Murray 0-2, Thompson 0-3). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 3 (Epps, Rice, Jennings). Turnovers: 22 (Epps 5, Thompson 5, Akhator 3, Murray 3, Jennings 2, Rice 2, Camara). Steals: 10 (Epps 4, Thompson 3, Morris, Murray, Akhator). Technical Fouls: None.

GEORGIA

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

PF

PT

Hempe

18

2-8

0-0

3

3

5

5

Barbee

28

3-9

1-2

7

5

3

8

Griffin

22

1-6

0-0

0

0

4

3

Roberts

26

2-9

2-3

6

2

4

7

Butler

37

3-8

1-2

1

3

4

7

Armbrister

13

2-5

0-0

2

2

1

6

Robinson

22

2-5

0-0

4

1

1

4

Clark

3

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Washington

17

4-5

0-2

3

2

4

8

Engram

14

2-7

0-0

2

0

1

5

Totals

200

21-62

4-9

35

18

27

53

Percentages: FG .339, FT .444. 3-Point Goals: 7-23, .304 (Armbrister 2-4, Hempe 1-3, Griffin 1-3, Barbee 1-3, Engram 1-3, Roberts 1-5, Butler 0-2). Team Rebounds: 7. Blocked Shots: 4 (Hempe 2, Robinson, Clark). Turnovers: 21 (Hempe 4, Barbee 4, Griffin 3, Butler 3, Engram 2, Robinson, Washington, Armbrister, Roberts). Steals: 10 (Butler 4, Barbee 3, Griffin 2, Roberts). Technical Fouls: None.

Kentucky

15

16

13

20

64

Georgia

11

10

9

23

53

A—2,681. Officials—Bryan Enterline, Amy Bonner, Kim Thebo.

Next game

No. 2 South Carolina at No. 10 Kentucky

7 p.m. Thursday (SEC Network)

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