LEXINGTON, Ky. – Rhyne Howard had 25 points and Jaida Roper had a career-high 15 as the 18th-ranked Kentucky women's basketball team ran past Murray State 88-49 on Friday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum.
Senior Maci Morris (pictured in an earlier game) had 13 points, all in the first half, while Taylor Murray had 12 points, six assists and four steals for the Wildcats. Junior Ogechi Anyagailgbo had only two points, but did pull down a season-high 10 rebounds in the game.
Kentucky (12-1) forced 27 Murray State turnovers, and converted those miscues into 25 points. The Racers only scored eight points off Kentucky's 13 turnovers. The Wildcats also held advantages in rebounding (39-29), bench points (32-16), second-chance points (12-5) and points in the paint (34-24).
Kentucky scored the first four points of the game on a jumper by Morris and a layup from Murray. But Murray State had the answer, scoring five points in a row to lead 5-4. After the game was tied 7-7, the Wildcats took a 10-8 lead before the Racers ran off eight points in a row to lead 16-10 with 4:55 left in the first period.
Murray State (4-6) hit its first seven shots from the floor, and the Racers led 20-14 with 3:09 left in the quarter. But Kentucky would close the period on a 6-0 run and the game was tied 20-20 after 10 minutes of play. Murray State hit eight of its 12 shots from the field in the quarter, but had 10 turnovers in the game's first 10 minutes. Kentucky hit eight of 17 from the floor and the Wildcats scored 12 points off the Racer miscues.
Early in the second period, the teams traded leads before a 6-0 Kentucky run gave the Wildcats a 30-25 advantage with 6:40 left in the half. Kentucky would score the last eight points of the period, six of which were by Morris, as a part of an 18-3 run to close the half, giving the Cats a 42-28 halftime advantage. Morris led all scorers with 13 points in the first half.
The Wildcats started the third period with another run, scoring the first nine points of the quarter to build a 51-28 lead. Later in the period, Kentucky held a 55-34 lead before assembling a 13-1 run, fueled by a pair of three-pointers from Howard, to lead 68-35. The Cats would lead 68-37 after three periods of play. After scoring just five points in the first half, Howard had 17 points in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Murray State cut the lead to 29 on a pair of occasions, but the Wildcats would continue to build the lead, with the final score being Kentucky's largest lead of the contest.
Murray State got 20 points from Evelyn Adebayo.
Kentucky returns to action on Saturday, Dec. 29 hosting Sacred Heart at Memorial Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 11:30 a.m. ET and the game can be seen on SEC Network+ (online only).
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught