LEXINGTON, Ky. – Taylor Murray had 12 points, including the 1,000th point of her UK career, while Rhyne Howard and Jaida Roper each had 11 as the Kentucky women’s basketball team topped Virginia 63-51 on Thursday night at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky (3-0) used its pressure defense to affect the outcome for the third straight game to open the season. The Cats forced 32 turnovers, and turned those into 32 points. The turnover numbers helped Kentucky overcome a tough shooting night, as the Cats were only able to connect on 23 of 69 (33.3 percent) from the floor in the game.
Ogechi Anyagaligbo had a career-high eight rebounds to lead the Cats, while Howard and KeKe McKinney had seven boards apiece.
Kentucky got off to a slow start after missing its first seven goals of the game. With 4:00 remaining in the first quarter, the Wildcats hit three in a row to take an early 6-4 lead on a made basket in the lane by Blair Green. At the end of the quarter, the teams were tied 8-8. The Wildcats forced 10 Virginia turnovers in the first quarter alone.
As they did in the first quarter, Kentucky started slowly in the second period. Virginia used a 5-0 run to take a 15-12 lead with 5:59 left in the half. But Kentucky rallied later in the half. A three-pointer by Tatyana Wyatt gave Kentucky a 19-17 lead with one minute left in the second quarter. Virginia struck back with a three from Erica Martinsen with 40 seconds remaining to lead 20-19. But just before the half, Maci Morris drained a jumper from the top of the key to give UK a 21-20 going into the break.
Kentucky forced Virginia into 18 turnovers in the first half, including eight in the second quarter. The Cats turned those 18 turnovers into 15 points.
The Wildcats would start the third quarter on a 9-2 run to take their biggest lead of the game at that point, a 30-22 advantage with 4:46 left in the period. The Wildcats finally began to heat up from behind the arc in the third quarter, making three of their six attempts. Kentucky outscored Virginia 23-11 in the quarter to grab a double-digit lead, 44-31.
Kentucky scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to take its biggest lead of the game, 47-31, with 8:01 left in the game. Virginia would continue to chip away at the lead, eventually cutting it to nine points, 57-48, with under a minute to play.
Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, as the Wildcats host High Point University at Memorial Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on SEC 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.