Rhyne Howard ties career high as No. 15 Kentucky tops Charlotte

KeKe McKinney scored 12 points with four rebounds and two assists in win over 49ers

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Rhyne Howard tied a career high with 29 points as the 15th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team crushed Charlotte 86-39 on Wednesday at Memorial Coliseum.

Howard made 10 of her 18 shots from the floor, including two of seven from behind the arc, while making seven of eight from the free throw line to account for her 29 points, the same number she scored against Southern last season.

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Sabrina Haines had 16 points for the Cats and Jaida Roper added 10. Kentucky made 29 of its 62 shots (46.8 percent) from the field, including 10 of 22 (45.5 percent) from behind the arc. The Cats also made 18 of 23 (78.3 percent) from the free throw line. Meanwhile, Charlotte hit 18 of its 56 shots (32.1 percent), including just two of 17 (11.8 percent) from three-point range. The 49ers made only one of four at the charity stripe.

Kentucky (8-0) forced 22 Charlotte turnovers and scored 24 points off those miscues. The Cats had only eight turnovers in the game, and the 49ers converted those into eight points.

Kentucky got off to a quick start, hitting four of its first six shots from the field, including two of two from behind the arc, to grab a 10-0 lead, forcing a Charlotte timeout with 6:51 still remaining in the first period. The Cats would hit their first four shots from behind the arc, and seven of their first ten overall, to build a 23-5 lead.

The Cats would end the first quarter hitting 10 of 16 from the floor and five of seven from behind the arc, outscoring Charlotte 29-9 through 10 minutes of play. Howard had 13 first-quarter points for Kentucky. The 29 points mark Kentucky’s highest-scoring quarter of the season.

The onslaught continued early in the second quarter, with Kentucky scoring the first seven points of the period to take a 36-9 advantage. Charlotte would score the next five to cut the lead to 36-14. The Cats would stretch the lead back to 26, but the 49ers scored six in a row, and appeared to be heading to the locker room down just 20. But Howard was fouled with 0.7 seconds left in the half, and she converted two of three free throws, giving the Cats a 44-22 lead at the half. Howard had 19 points in the game’s first 20 minutes.

In the third quarter, Kentucky made just one of its first five shots, and Charlotte was able to cut the lead to 46-27. Later in the period, Kentucky got things going offensively and assembled a 14-2 run, including eight in a row, to lead 60-29. Kentucky would outscore Charlotte 18-11 in the period and would take a 62-33 lead into the fourth quarter.

Kentucky started the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run to lead 68-35. The Cats would continue to stretch its advantage in the fourth quarter, closing the game on a 14-2 run to establish the biggest lead of the game, 47 points, at the end of the contest.

Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, hosting Samford at Memorial Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. and the game can be seen on SEC Network Plus.

For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas toBKennedy@wtvq.com