LEXINGTON, Ky. – Playing without veteran post players in 6-6 center Sarah Elliott and 6-3 forward Eleia Roddy, Kentucky was out-rebounded 43-38 and the Ohio Legends hit 38-of-49 free throws to defeat the Wildcats 88-79 Monday in exhibition play. It was UK’s first preseason loss in Memorial Coliseum since 2001.
The Legends, comprised of former collegiate players from Akron, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Furman, Northern Illinois, West Georgia, Ohio, and three players from Ohio State, knocked off their second major Division-I women’s basketball program in three days after defeating Xavier on Saturday in Cincinnati.
“We knew it was going to be a test tonight,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “They [Ohio Legends] had already beaten a couple of teams and we tried to get across to our players that it was going to be a tough game and, obviously, I didn’t do a very good job of that because I thought we were a bit lifeless in the first half.”
Kentucky was led by senior guard Samantha Mahoney (Detroit), who scored a team-high 18 points and went 6-of-7 from the free-throw line. Sophomore forward Brittany Edelen (Springfield, Ky.) added 16 points, which would have been a career high if it had been a regular-season contest. Junior point guard Carly Ormerod (Louisville, Ky.) scored nine points, went 5-of-6 from the free throw line and brought down a squad-best six rebounds to lead an uncharacteristically poor rebounding effort by the Wildcats.
“I put Brittany in the game because I knew that she would give us some energy and intensity – something that we were lacking at the time,” Mitchell said. “She made some pretty dynamic plays and she made some mistakes, but they were all mistakes going full speed and that is what I am looking for. I thought she played an outstanding game.”
With the Wildcats trailing 78-62 with 3:30 remaining, the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run over the next 1:24 to cut to within nine, 78-69, on a jumper by Mahoney. But the Legends quickly scored three in a row to build their advantage back to 12 at 81-69 with 1:33 left to close the door on Kentucky.
The Wildcats committed 21 turnovers in the game and the Legends scored 26 points off of those miscues. Kentucky managed just 39.4 percent (28-of-71) shooting from the floor for the game, though the Cats were much improved in the final period of play. UK hit just 36.4 percent (12-of-33) of its shots in the opening period, but made 42 percent (16-of-38) from the floor in the final stanza. UK also made just 58.6 percent (17-of-29) of its attempts from the charity stripe while the Ohio Legends hit 38-of-49
The Legends broke open an early 13-13 tie with an 8-0 run to give them a 21-13 advantage with 10:18 remaining in the opening period. A three-pointer by freshman point guard Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.) from the right wing at the 9:31 mark stopped the run and Mahoney followed with a pair of free throws to cut the Cats’ deficit to three, 21-18. The Legends then made six free throws over a two-minute 47-second span to pull ahead 27-20 before Mahoney, Catina Bett (Gadsden, Ala.) and Lydia Watkins (Hopkinsville, Ky.) hit consecutive baskets to come within one, 27-26, with 3:30 remaining in the opening period.
Watkins sank a three-pointer at the 2:41 mark to knot the score at 29-all, but the Legends responded with a three of their own. The Ohio Legends closed the first half on a 13-2 run to take a 42-31 advantage into the locker room at intermission. The Wildcats shot just 36.4 percent (12-of-33) from the floor in the opening period.
The Legends scored the first eight points of the second half before Ormerod broke the scoring streak with a pair of free throws with Kentucky behind 50-33. Trailing 54-35, the Wildcats used a 6-0 run, capped off by a basket by Edelen in the paint to cut within 13, 54-41, with 14:02 left in the game. The Legends, who extended their advantage out to 18 (77-59) with 4:12 remaining, led by double digits for nearly the entire second half until the Cats began their second-half comeback attempt.
Larecha Jones scored a game-high 23 points to lead OGBM. Former Wildcat LaTonya McDole, who lettered at UK from 1998-2002 and ranks 14th on the school’s all-time scoring list, had 11 points and eight rebounds and was 8-of-9 from the charity stripe for the Legends.
Kentucky opens its 34th season Saturday, Nov. 10 when it plays host to USC-Upstate at 7 p.m. EST in Memorial Coliseum. The game will be carried live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio) with Neil Price. Single-game tickets are available at a cost of $5 for adults and $2 for seniors and children ages 6-18. Age five and under are admitted free. Reserved seats require a ticket regardless of age. Season tickets also are available at a cost of just $45 for 15 exciting home games. To order tickets visit the Joe Craft Center ticket office from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, log on to UKathletics.com or call the UK ticket office at 859-257-1818 or 1-800-928-CATS (2287).