Kentucky women’s basketball fends off Missouri to end 3-game losing streak

The Kentucky women’s basketball team broke its three-game losing streak and tied its 2022-23 Southeastern Conference win total on Sunday afternoon with a 76-71 defeat of Missouri in Rupp Arena.

Ajae Petty, UK’s leading scorer, was limited to two points in the first quarter — after only scoring two points total in UK’s 62-point loss at South Carolina last week — but Eniya Russell and Emma King kept the Wildcats (9-10, 2-3 SEC) close at 20-16 with a combined 11 points.

Kentucky came out firing in the second quarter, outscoring the Tigers 22-12 and limiting them to 31.3% from the field, a substantial drop from their first-quarter performance of 53.8%. UK got seven second-quarter points from sophomore guard Saniah Tyler, who started her first game since the Wildcats’ Dec. 10 loss at Louisville.

The Tigers (11-8, 2-4 SEC) came out with renewed energy and delivered a third-quarter burst to cut into the Wildcats’ lead. Winning the third quarter has proved extremely difficult for the Wildcats all season, and despite being outscored 18-17 during that span Sunday, that deficit was limited in part by Maddie Scherr’s eight points, which tied her first-half total.

Kentucky opened the fourth on a mission, building a 63-52 lead early on. The Wildcats also benefited from three Tigers fouling out — starting forward Hannah Linthacum and reserves Abby Feit and Ashton Judd.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Scherr also fouled out with less than two minutes to play — and Missouri starting guard Mama Dembele sank both free throws to cut Kentucky’s lead to three points. Not a minute after, Kentucky point guard Brooklynn Miles fouled Missouri leading scorer Hayley Frank on a made shot, and Frank’s free throw tied the game. She, too, would soon foul out.

Kentucky guard Maddie Scherr celebrates scoring and drawing a foul against Missouri. She had 19 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks in the Wildcats’ win.
Kentucky guard Maddie Scherr celebrates scoring and drawing a foul against Missouri. She had 19 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks in the Wildcats’ win.

Russell put the Cats back up with a smooth jump shot with less than a minute to go, and then iced the victory with one of two made free throws as a result of being fouled on a rebound. Petty tacked on a pair of free throws for good measure.

Four Kentucky players finished in double figures in scoring. Russell led the Wildcats with 20 points. Scherr had 19. Petty contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Tyler added 10 points.

Frank led all players in scoring with 24 points. Missouri freshman Grace Slaughter finished with 13. Judd added nine points and 10 rebounds.

Kentucky guard Eniya Russell (4) passes the ball against Missouri. She led the Wildcats with 20 points and also had seven rebounds and two steals.
Kentucky guard Eniya Russell (4) passes the ball against Missouri. She led the Wildcats with 20 points and also had seven rebounds and two steals.

Next game

Kentucky at Arkansas

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

TV: SEC Network+ (online only)

Radio: WLAP-AM 630

Records: Kentucky 9-10 (2-3 SEC), Arkansas 14-5 (2-2 SEC)

Series: Kentucky leads 27-15

Last meeting: Kentucky won 73-63 on Jan. 4, 2023, at Rupp Arena