The Cats could not survive the first weekend of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, losing 86-72 to Iowa in a matchup that really was not close from the start.
Iowa began the game on an 11-0 run, and did not look back from there. The Hawkeyes’ lead would grow to as much as 27 points in the second quarter, and they would not be threatened for the rest of the outing.
This was due to many reasons, one of which was Kentucky’s inability to consistently score against an Iowa defense that ranked last in college basketball in terms of points per game given up. They shot just 35% from the field, including 26% from behind the arc. SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard would not even get on to the board until five minutes remained in the second quarter, although she finished with 28 points and five rebounds. The rest of the starters finished with just 18 combined points.
Defensively, rotations were off and Kentucky lacked intensity. Freshman phenom Caitlin Clark finished with 35 points on 13/21 shooting from the floor including hitting 6/12 shots from behind the arc. She also added seven rebounds and seven assists. The Hawkeyes as a whole shot 57% from the field, including 52% from downtown.
This loss gives the Cats an 18-9 finishing record for the season, with a definitive sour taste in their mouths. Not to mention, they came off a near blowout loss to Georgia in the SEC Tournament, and a home loss to an Ole Miss squad that did not even make the the field of 64. Safe to say, it was very much an underwhelming ending for those expecting great things in Lexington this season.