With only six available players, Kentucky women fall short at Vanderbilt
UK will be back in action Sunday at No. 12/11 LSU at 2 p.m. ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UK Athletics) – All-American Rhyne Howard scored 25 points but the Kentucky women’s basketball team lost at Vanderbilt 65-57 on Thursday night inside Memorial Gymnasium.
With her 25 points, Howard became the third player in Kentucky women’s basketball history to score 2,000 points in her career. She joins Valerie Still (2,763) and A’dia Mathies (2,014) in the exclusive 2,000-point club.
Howard hit eight of her 17 shots, including four of eight from behind the arc. She made all five of her free throws, had 10 rebounds, five steals, two blocked shots and an assist.
Freshman Jada Walker was the only other Wildcat in double figures. Walker scored 10 points and added four rebounds. Emma King had nine points for the Cats.
Kentucky (9-8, 2-5 SEC) was shorthanded again on Thursday, with just six players able to play.
In the first period, both teams made runs very early in the game. After Vandy scored the first two points of the game on free throws by Demi Washington, Kentucky ran off seven points in a row. It was a run that started with a Nyah Leveretter basket and free throw and that ended on a Walker driving layup.
Vanderbilt (11-10, 2-5) would respond with eight points in a row to take the lead back, 10-7. But the Cats responded with baskets from Walker and King to lead 11-10 with 3:23 left in the first quarter. Vandy would lead 12-11 before Howard scored a basket and a free throw to give UK a 14-12 advantage. But the ‘Dores would close strong and lead 17-15 after 10 minutes of play.
The Commodores would score the first five points of the second period to extend the lead to 22-15 and force a Kentucky timeout. The Cats responded out of the break, with five straight points, all by Howard, to get within 22-20.
Vandy would lead 24-20 before UK got a corner jumper from King and a three from Howard to take the lead back, 25-24, with 3:49 left in the half. Vandy answered with a Brinae Alexander three to lead 27-25 but Howard hit another three on UK’s next possession to give the Cats a 28-27 lead.
Alexander would answer not once but twice, hitting two more threes to give the Commodores a 33-28 lead. Vandy would get the final two points of the half, closing out an 8-0 run, to lead 35-28 at the break. Kentucky had 16 turnovers in the first half, leading to 15 Vandy points.
Kentucky started strongly in the third period, with baskets from Olivia Owens and Leveretter, to cut the deficit to 35-32. Vanderbilt again had an answer, getting seen straight points to lead 42-32.
The Cats did not quit. In fact, UK answered with a run of its own. Keyed by seven points from Howard, UK went on a 10-5 run to get within five, 47-42, with 2:35 left in the third quarter. The Cats would fall behind 52-44 but Howard hit two free throws late in the period to make it 52-46 after three periods.
Vanderbilt started the fourth quarter on a 6-2 run to lead 58-48 with 8:07 to play. But Kentucky would not go away. The Cats got a jumper from Walker, then five straight points from King, to cut it to 58-55 with 5:16 to play. But UK would not score again for over five minutes and the ‘Dores were able to seal the victory during that span.
Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, playing on the road for the third straight game. The Cats will be in Baton Rouge to face LSU for a 2 p.m. ET tipoff. The game can be seen on the SEC Network.