Women's Basketball
No. 15 Kentucky Holds Off Alabama

No. 15 Kentucky Holds Off Alabama

by Tim Letcher

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Sabrina Haines scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds as the 15th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team topped Alabama 66-62 on Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum.

Haines made five of her 13 shots in the game, including four of seven from behind the arc, to account for her 14 points. Chasity Patterson scored 11 points for the Cats, while Jaida Roper had 10. KeKe McKinney had nine points, six rebounds and five blocked shots for the Cats.

Kentucky (18-4, 7-3 SEC) used its pressure defense to force 17 Alabama turnovers, and the Cats turned those into 21 points. Meanwhile, UK had just six turnovers in the game, and the Tide scored just two points off the Kentucky miscues.

Both teams faced struggles in the first five minutes of the game. For Alabama, it was turnovers, as the Tide committed six miscues early. Meanwhile, after Kentucky made its first field goal, a layup by Ogechi Anyagaligbo, the Cats missed their next 10 shots. All of that produced a 5-4 Alabama lead.

Kentucky took its first lead of the game on a jumper by Patterson with 3:36 left in the first. Alabama would re-take the lead on its next possession on an Ashley Knight layup. But a pair of Blair Green free throws with 2:52 left in the first gave the Cats an 8-7 advantage. The Cats would get a pair of threes from Haines before close of the period and UK would lead 14-10 after 10 minutes of action.

Alabama scored the first four points of the second period to tie the game at 14 apiece. With the game tied at 16-16, Patterson hit a wide open three from the top of the key to give the Cats a 19-16 advantage. The Tide would fight back to tie the game at 21 apiece before the Cats got a jumper from Amanda Paschal and a three from McKinney to led 26-21 with 3:37 to play in the half.

Kentucky would take its biggest lead of the half, six points, on two occasions, including on a McKinney layup with 31 seconds left in the half. The Tide would get a layup from De’Sha Benjamin with six seconds left in the half to make it 31-27 UK at the break. Patterson led all scorers with nine points in the first half.

The Cats scored the first four points of the third period, on a layup by Anyagaligbo and a jumper by McKinney, to lead 35-27. Kentucky would take is biggest lead, 39-29, on a pair of Jaida Roper free throws with 5:30 left in the period. But Alabama answered, scoring five in a row to cut the deficit to 39-34 with 4:45 to play in the third.

From there, the Tide would continue to get closer, using a 9-2 run to cut the UK lead to two, 45-43 with 57 seconds left in the period. But as time expired in the third quarter, Haines got a fortuitous bounce on a three-pointer from the corner, and the Cats led 48-43 after three quarters.

Haines stayed hot early in the fourth quarter, hitting a left-side three to give the Cats a 51-43 lead. But Alabama answered with a three from Brittany Davis to make it 51-46 UK with 8:18 to play. The Cats would stretch the lead back to eight, 54-46 before the Tide scored three in a row to make it 54-49 with 5:54 to play.

The two teams then combined to go scoreless for more than two minutes before Roper hit a rainbow three from the right corner with 3:34 to play, giving Kentucky a 57-49 advantage. Alabama would answer on a layup from Cierra Johnson and a three by Jasmine Walker to cut the deficit to 57-54 with 2:56 remaining.

After McKinney missed a three, the Tide had a possession to tie the game, but Jordan Lewis lost the ball in the lane, giving the all back to the Cats. Kentucky then got an elbow jumper from Tatyana Wyatt, followed by a steal and layup from Haines to lead 61-54 with 1:26 left in the game.

The teams would exchange basket-and-free-throw possessions before Bama’s Walker hit a three to cut the lead to 64-60. And after Haines missed a runner in the lane, the Tide’s Davis was fouled and hit two free throws to cut the lead to 64-62 with 26.2 seconds left.

Roper was fouled with 21.6 seconds left and the senior hit both free throws, extending the lead to 66-62, which would be the final score.

Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, facing Arkansas in Fayetteville. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on ESPN2.

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