After being up 12 points at halftime, Kentucky women’s basketball failed to find its rhythm in the second half and fell to Middle Tennessee 57-62 on Thursday evening.
The third quarter is when the Cats started to relinquish their lead, allowing MT to outscore them 12-22, cutting their 12-point lead to just two.
Kentucky allowed Middle Tennessee to take the lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter after MT went on a 14-0 run that started in the third quarter. Kentucky was held scoreless for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, allowing MT to take the lead 48-44.
The game spiraled out of control during the final quarter, with three different lead changes and four tied scores, but Middle Tennessee wanted the win more, outscoring the Cats 42-25 in the second half.
The Cats got a glimpse of hope late in the fourth as KeKe McKinney drained a three pointer to cut Middle Tennessee’s lead to one with 30 second remaining, but the Blue Raiders responded with two made free throws from Clarity Savage, putting MT back up by three.
McKinney would attempt a game-tying three on the next possession, but the shot fell short, ending Kentucky’s chances of snapping its losing streak.
Head coach Matthew Mitchell was smart with UK’s timeouts, saving them all for the end of the quarter, calling them in between plays, but made free throws by Middle Tennessee during the last minute of the game sealed the deal.
Attempting to keep the team alive, Alyssa Rice finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. She fouled out in the final seconds of the game after fouling Savage, which tacked on two more points to MT’s final score.
Maci Morris was UK’s leading scorer with 13 points.
In the beginning the game, both teams got out to a sloppy start. Middle Tennessee allowed the pressure of Kentucky’s defense to get to them, committing more than five turnovers by the end of the first quarter.
On the other end, UK collected three fouls and two turnovers not even halfway through the first quarter.
Both teams kept going on back-to-back scoring droughts in the second quarter– there wasn’t a time in the first half that both teams were consistently scoring back to back. The Cats did have impressive defense however, holding MT to only six made field goals in the whole first half.
This makes five straight losses for Kentucky going into SEC play. Kentucky will start conference play Sunday, Dec. 31 at noon in Rupp Arena against Tennessee.