ST. THOMAS, V.I. – Freshman Rhyne Howard had 18 points and senior Taylor Murray scored 17 as the Kentucky women’s basketball team upset No. 17 South Florida 85-63 in Thursday action at the 2018 Paradise Jam.
Jaida Roper came off the bench to score 12 points, while KeKe McKinney had another solid effort, scoring 10.
Kentucky (5-0) started quickly, scoring the first five points of the contest behind a three-pointer from Howard and a layup by Murray. South Florida scored the next four points to cut the lead to one, but Kentucky responded by scoring four straight, forcing a USF timeout.
Later in the quarter, Kentucky went cold, and South Florida responded by scoring nine in a row, on three consecutive three-pointers, to take a 19-17 lead with 1:53 left in the first quarter. Roper was able to end that run on a jumper with 1:36 left in the period. The Cats then regained the lead, 22-19 on a McKinney three-pointer with 1:03 to go in the first. Kentucky would lead 22-20 after one quarter.
USF (4-1) tied the game early in the third quarter before Kentucky scored six straight, including a three-pointer from Maci Morris, to lead 28-22. USF ended the run on a Shae Leverett layup, but Roper answered with a jumper, giving the Cats a 30-24 lead with 4:33 left in the first half. Kentucky would close the half on a 10-0 run to extend the lead to 44-28.
Kentucky would extend the lead to as many as 18 early in the third quarter before South Florida made a bit of a run. The Bulls would cut the Wildcats’ lead to 12 before McKinney nailed a three-pointer with 6:09 left in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 55-40 UK with 6:09 left in the third period. Kentucky would take a 21-point lead, 63-42, with 1:59 left in the period on a three-ball by Howard. The Cats would lead 65-44 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Kentucky kept the pressure on, leading by as many as 26 points before USF cut the lead to 78-59 with 1:57 to go. But Morris nailed a three-pointer on UK’s next possession to put the game, and the upset, away.
Kentucky returns to action on Friday, facing UCLA in the Paradise Jam. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. and the game can be heard on the UK Sports Network.
For more information on the Kentucky women’s basketball team, visit UKathletics.com or follow @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, or Kentucky Women’s Basketball on Facebook.