Wildcats defeat Virginia – Photo by Teresa Fraley – SVA

Kentucky Wildcats vs Virginia Cavaliers – Women’s Basketball – November 15, 2018 – Phyllis Millspaugh – Contributing Columnist SVA

Kentucky Women outlast Virginia 63-51

Playing their first of two games in historic Rupp Arena, Kentucky women’s basketball defeated the Virginia Cavaliers 63-51 in its first all-time meeting and its first SEC game of the season.

Coming out cold in the first quarter, the Wildcats took a full four minutes to score their first basket.  Shooting only 27% from the floor and 0-5 from the 3 point line, Kentucky managed to stay with the Cavaliers, but given that both teams were slow to score, ending the quarter tied at 8-8 wasn’t saying too much.  Virginia fared better on the floor shooting 57% from the field, but their numerous turnovers prevented them from taking any real advantage of the Cats’ cold opening.

The second quarter saw no real improvement in the Cats offense, as they continued shooting an abysmal 27% from the field.  Only UK’s sophomore forward, Tatyana Wyatt, was able to get a three-pointer in the bucket for the Cats.  Virginia managed two three-pointers in the second quarter.  As the teams headed to their locker rooms, Kentucky was leading 21-20.

At least the Prime Time Dancers brought the crowd to their feet at half time with their spunky dance routine and a nod to today’s dance moves.

After the half, the Cats showed some of their own spunkiness with a 9-point quick scoring run to push them past the Cavaliers.  That swarming defense showed up and the Cats forced 28 turnovers.  Suddenly all the Cats were hitting their shots, spreading the buckets across all five players on the floor.  They ended the third quarter scoring 23 points – more than they did the whole first half.  Macie Morris’ shooting hand finally began to warm and she sunk her first three-pointer.  But the story of the third quarter was the even distribution of scoring from the Cats, with virtually everyone on the floor contributing to the score and a noticeable improvement in scoring: 45% from the field and putting in 3-6 from the three-point line.    The Cavaliers saw some good scoring action from their bench with Erica Martinsen, who dumped in her first 10 points of the game and had a hot three-point hand,  shooting 40% from behind the arc.  But overall, Virginia struggled in the third quarter, shooting only 36% from the field.  44-31 at the end of the third quarter.

Fourth quarter action had the Cats ready to show that energy that carried them through their first two wins.  Although Kentucky’s field goal percentage was still an unremarkable 33%, it was enough to outpace Virginia.  The Cavalier’s 6’9” junior center, Felicia Aiyeotan, guard kept Virginia in the game by pouring in 8 points and Erica Martinsen was Virginia’s high scorer with 15 points.  Kentucky had three players in double digits by the game’s end: Taylor Murray with 12, Rhyne Howard with 11 and Jaida Roper also with 11.

It was defense carrying the Wildcats again this game, racking up 29 steals and scoring 24 points off of Cavalier turnovers. Kentucky also had a good night at the free throw line, ending the night capitalizing on Virginia fouls 13 out of 15 chances.  Kentucky, now 3-0, will next take on the High Point University Panthers at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington on Sunday, November 18.

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