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Kentucky Hoops Suffocates Radford

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Lexington Regional-Kentucky vs Washington Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The 19th-ranked UK Hoops team found themselves in a novel situation Sunday afternoon at Memorial Coliseum: a game devoid of overtime.

After consecutive slobberknockers, the Wildcats fought tooth and claw to down Radford 59-36, thanks to a strong defensive effort that offset an off shooting day for Matthew Mitchell’s team.

Kentucky forced the Highlanders into 19 turnovers and claimed 19 points off those same miscues. Radford shot 13-of-53 from the field, a frigid 26 percent, and just 2-of-20 from three-point land.

Radford Head Coach Mike McGuire credited Kentucky’s 2-3 zone with throwing his team’s offensive rhythm off in the early going along with a few missed easy shots.

Three Wildcats finished the game in double-figures in spite of 24-of-65 shooting (37 percent). Makayla Epps and Evelyn Akhator shared the team-high with 13 points. Epps shot 6-of-12 and 1-of-5 from deep to go along with five rebounds and one assist. Akhator was an efficient 6-of-9 and snatched seven rebounds. Mackenzie Cann hit a game-high 3 three-points off the bench. She finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Kentucky also overcame losing starting point guard Taylor Murray. Matthew Mitchell said in his postgame comments that Murray broke her finger during the Arizona State game and is out for the foreseeable future.

Freshman guards Jaida Roper and Paige Poffenberger earned significant minutes to replace Murray. Both hustled hard, with Roper hitting the deck several times to claim a loose ball. Poffenberger hit her only field-goal attempt in a season-high 14 minutes of play. Roper struggled from the floor, only scoring two points (1-of-5), but dished out four beautiful assists and ran the offense well.

The win improves Kentucky record to 8-3 on the season and snapped the Highlanders six game winning streak. The Cats will take the court again this coming Wednesday against the Washington State Cougars.