COLLEGE STATION, Texas (UK Athletics) – Maci Morris scored 22 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out four assists, but the 15th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team came up just short, falling to No. 24 Texas A&M 73-71 on Sunday at Reed Arena.
Rhyne Howard also had a big game for the Cats with 21 points, eight rebounds, four steals and two assists. No other Wildcat scored in double figures.
Kentucky (17-4, 4-3 SEC) hit 11 of its 29 three-point attempts (37.9 percent) in the game. Howard had five threes and Morris had four. The Cats won the battle of the boards, 34-31, and held a 14-5 advantage in second chance points. But A&M hit 25 of 48 (52.1 percent) from the floor in the game, including six of eight from behind the arc.
Both teams struggled to get going on offense early. In fact, Kentucky made its first shot of the game, a Tatyana Wyatt basket, then missed its next eight shots. But Texas A&M couldn’t get away, as the Aggies only had a 6-2 lead at the first media timeout. Kentucky would cut the lead to 8-5 on a three-pointer by Howard, but A&M scored the next six to lead 14-5, forcing a Kentucky timeout.
Out of the break, Howard drilled her second three of the period, cutting the lead to 14-8. A&M got an old fashioned three-point play from N’dea Jones before Morris hit her first three of the game, making it 17-11. The Aggies would get the final basket of the period, taking a 19-11 advantage into the second quarter.
Early in the second period, Howard was at it again, making her third three-pointer of the game, cutting the lead to 19-14. That shot was part of a 7-0 run that UK used to cut the lead to one, 19-18. But A&M scored the next four to lead 23-18. Kentucky again sliced the advantage, cutting the lead to two, 25-23, on a three from Morris. But the Aggies, again, had the answer, scoring six in a row to take a 31-23 advantage.
The Cats would mount a rally of their own, scoring eight straight to tie the game at 31 apiece with 1:23 left in the half. The Aggies got the final basket of the half and took a 33-31 lead into the half. Howard led all scorers with 12 in the first half. Kentucky hit seven of 15 (46.7 percent) from behind the arc in the half.
In the third period, Kentucky tied the score at 33-33 and 35-35 before A&M scored five in a row to lead 40-35. KeKe McKinney scored to make it 40-37, but A&M then assembled a 10-3 run to lead 50-40 with 4:40 left in the third. The Cats would trail by 10, 56-46, before scoring the final four points of the period to cut the lead to 56-50 with 10 minutes to play.
In the final period, Kentucky could not get within six for most of the quarter. But with less than four minutes left, Morris got hot, scoring 12 in a row to cut the lead to 72-67. And on UK’s next possession, Morris found McKinney, who converted a layup to cut the lead to 72-69 with 1:40 to play.
Neither team scored again until Howard was fouled on a three-point attempt with 9.9 seconds remaining. The freshman made the first of three free throws, missed the second and made the third, cutting the advantage to 72-71. Kentucky then fouled A&M’s Jones, who made one of two to give the Aggies a 73-71 lead with 8.5 seconds to play.
The Wildcats called a timeout to advance the ball and set up the final possession. Howard attempted a mid-range jumper that rimmed out and A&M grabbed the rebound. The Aggies missed two free throws with 0.7 seconds left, but Kentucky’s full-court heave at the buzzer came up short.
Texas A&M (16-4, 5-2) got 20 points apiece from Chennedy Carter and Kayla Wells.
Kentucky returns to action on Thursday, hosting South Carolina at Memorial Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.