The University of Kentucky women’s basketball team hosted Arizona State at Rupp Arena in a “Pack the House” promotion that brought out thousands of members of Big Blue Nation. And the crowd was not disappointed as the Cats and Sun Devils fought for four quarters and an overtime to finally settle things. Arizona State was able to squeak out tough road win against the 15th ranked Wildcats, 73-71. Makayla Epps’ last second shot fell just short as Arizona State’s Sophie Brunner gave the Sun Devils the lead on a shot with 5.5 seconds left.
Sophomore Maci Morris lead the way with 29 points on 9-17 shooting (and an amazing 9-9 from the FT line). Point guard Taylor Murray added 16 points and 4 assists. Makayla Epps went scoreless in the first half, all of her 14 points coming in the second half and overtime. Epps also finished with 7 rebounds. Akhator finished with 12 rebounds to go with her six points. Not a bad overall performance from the Cats, but as they move forward, head coach Matthew Mitchell is going to have to get some more offense and defense from the interior.
Arizona State ruled the paint with Quinn Dornstauder and Brunner combining for 33 points and 12 rebounds. The Sun Devils outrebounded the Wildcats 41-32. The Sun Devils were down by 7 at the half, 31-24 and quickly got back into the game by working Dornstauder and Bruner of different variations of high/low post action. During his postgame comments, Coach Mitchell lamented the fact that the Cats came out flat in the first part of the second half allowing ASU to get everything they wanted right at the rim, a statement echoed by UK’s Epps. ASU Head Coach Charli Turner Thorne said that it was the Sun Devils’ goal to exploit the Wildcats on the inside.
It was a tough loss for the Wildcats, who have played one of the tougher schedules in the country, dropping them to 7-3 on the season. Matthew Mitchell said that there are a lot of things to build on as the Cats move forward, notably Morris’ 29 points. The Cats are going to have to work on being tougher inside with the SEC schedule looming. All isn’t lost, but Mitchell and company have their work laid out for them if they want to compete in the SEC and make a deep NCAA tournament run.