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The ‘Cats returned to Memorial Coliseum on Sunday afternoon to take on the UNC Greensboro Spartans. Kentucky WBB has started the season strong with a 5-1 record (only loss to Virginia Tech). The Spartans entered the contest with a 4-3 record on the young season. The ‘Cats have played well as a team to start the season and they look to continue to build their chemistry with each game. Some keys to the game that have been weaknesses to start the year for the ‘Cats were three-point shooting and limiting turnovers. Eniya Russell was unavailable for the game due to illness.

The starting lineup for the ‘Cats featured Benton, Walker, Green, Scherr, and Adeyeye.

Game Recap:

The Spartans scored the first points of the game off a driving layup that was immediately initiated and scored off the opening tip. Green responded quickly for the ‘Cats with a mid-range jumper just before the shot clock buzzer sounded. With both teams having success on the offensive end, the ‘Cats first three-pointer of the game came from Benton in the corner off an assist from Walker to bring the score to 9-8 Kentucky. Both teams maintained their red-hot shooting from the field as the quarter continued, with the ‘Cats starting 8-9 on field goals to begin the game. The score at the first media timeout was 20-13 Kentucky. An 18-2 run throughout 6 first quarter minutes helped the ‘Cats pull out to a 27-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. Kentucky had 13 points off 9 forced turnovers in the quarter and shot 71% from the field.

The first points for the ‘Cats in the second quarter were off a confident mid-range stop and pop jumper from Scherr. A 6-0 run to start the quarter gave the ‘Cats a 33-15 lead 3-minutes into action. With Kentucky’s stifling defense holding UNCG scoreless over a 3-minute period in the quarter, the ‘Cats took a 38-17 lead into the media timeout. Another ‘Cats 11-0 run was broken by a Spartan layup and brought the Kentucky lead to 44-19 with 2:30 left in the half. The ‘Cats outscored the Spartans 21-6 in the quarter and led 48-21 at halftime. Walker led the way with 14 first half points, while Benton mixed in 9 points in the half. The ‘Cats shot a fiery 67% from the field in the half and held the Spartans to just 29% shooting in the half.

A UNCG jumper started the scoring in the second half. The ‘Cats quickly responded through an Adeyeye layup on the next possession on the other end. With UNCG outscoring Kentucky 6-5 to start the second half, Coach Elzy called a timeout to try to regroup the ‘Cats, who still held a 53-27 lead with 6:48 left to play in the third quarter. The Spartans started the second half much better than their second quarter showing, playing with fluid offense, and rebounding well to start the quarter. With 4:12 left in the quarter, the Spartans had outscored the ‘Cats 10-9 in the third. As the ‘Cats defensive intensity picked up after another timeout, the ‘Cats began to turn the Spartans over as they did often in the first half, leading to easy baskets and transition opportunities. Kentucky led 68-39 heading into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter scoring started with a pair of Walker free-throws, giving her 18 points in the game to that point. The ‘Cats offense continued to slow in the fourth. The ‘Cats reserves began to mix into the game with around 6-minutes to play and the ‘Cats up 75-45. To finish the game, many of the Kentucky points came from the charity stripe, as the offense flow slowed and became stagnant in the last stretch of the game. The Spartans outscored the ‘Cats 17-14 in the fourth quarter. The sluggish final quarter did not diminish the dominance the ‘Cats displayed in the first half, however, as they went on to win 82-56 in a rout of the Spartans.

The ’Cats defense held the Spartans to 34% shooting from the field and 29% shooting from three. The ‘Cats red-hot offense shot 58% from the field, but just 29% from three-point range. The ‘Cats forced 24 turnovers in the game but committed 17 of their own. Kentucky outrebounded UNCG 38-34 in the game, with Petty (12 rebounds) leading the rebounding effort. Scherr distributed the ball well throughout the game, finishing with a team leading 5 assists. Walker led the scoring charge and the hot-shooting effort for the ‘Cats as she went 7-9 from the field and collected 20 points. Benton added 14 points and Petty added 10 points as the only three ‘Cats in double figures for the game.

The ‘Cats head to Minneapolis for their next game as they take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Wednesday, December 7 at 8:00 p.m. at Williams Arena.

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