MURFREESBORO, Tenn. Maci Morris scored 13 points and Alyssa Rice added 11 points and eight rebounds, but the Kentucky women's basketball team fell to Middle Tennessee 62-57 on Thursday night at the Murphy Center.
Kentucky (8-6) hit 11 of 20 shots in the first half, but the Wildcats connected on just eight of 28 shots after the break. Kentucky hit just four of its 17 shots from behind the arc in the game, while Middle Tennessee hit seven of 17. The Wildcats held the advantage in bench points (18-10) and points in the paint (20-18). But the Wildcats lost the battle of the boards 34-26.
Middle Tennessee (8-5) got on the board first on an Abbey Sissom free throw, but Kentucky scored the next eight points of the game to take an early 8-1 advantage. The Wildcats would extend the lead to 11-2 on a layup by Paige Poffenberger with 2:40 left in the first period. MTSU answered by scoring the next seven points to cut Kentucky's lead to 11-9. But just before the end of the period, McKinney nailed a three-pointer to give the Cats a 14-9 lead after one period.
In the second period, the Blue Raiders cut Kentucky's lead to 16-14, but the Wildcats went on a quick 7-0 run, sparked by four points from Wyatt, to make it 23-14 with 5:32 left in the half. Middle Tennessee would cut the lead to 23-17 before Kentucky finished the half on a 9-3 run, capped by a Jaida Roper three ball, to lead 32-20 at the break.
Kentucky held the lead throughout the third period, and the Cats led 44-34 with 2:34 left in the quarter. But MTSU mounted a rally, scoring the final eight points of the period to cut the UK lead to 44-42 after three quarters. Kentucky hit just five of 17 shots in the period, while MTSU hit six of its 11 shots.
In the fourth quarter, the Sisson hit a three-pointer to give MTSU a 45-44 lead, their first lead since it was 1-0. The Blue Raiders would lead by as many as four before the Cats clawed back. Kentucky would take a 51-50 lead on a pair of free throws by Morris with 2:53 remaining in the game. But MTSU took the lead back before Kentucky was able to tie the game at 52 and 54. MTSU took a four-point lead, 58-54, before a McKinney three cut the lead to 58-57. After a pair of free throws by Charity Savage made it 60-57 with 10 seconds left in the game, Kentucky had one final possession to try for a tie. But McKinney's three-pointer was no good and MTSU added a pair of free throws to provide the final margin.
Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, as the Wildcats open SEC play against Tennessee at Rupp Arena. Tipoff is set for noon ET and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.