Wildcat women fall in NIT

Madison, Wis. – The Kentucky women’s basketball team concluded its 2008-09 season with a heartbreaking 49-45 loss to Wisconsin Sunday in the second round of the Women’s Invitation Tournament in the Kohl Center. Seniors Carly Ormerod and Eleia Roddy led the Wildcats with 11 points while sophomore Victoria Dunlap grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds to go along with eight points and three blocks.

“Congratulations to Wisconsin, their defense was outstanding,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “It was one of the toughest defenses we have faced this season. It’s always sad to end the season on a loss but we will try and wish our seniors well and hopefully we can move forward and learn something from this game.”

It was a defensive battle for both teams as neither squad seemed to find its offensive groove until late in the game.

Kentucky (16-16, 5-9 SEC) struggled to score early, trailing 19-16 at the break for its lowest point total of the season. The Cats shot just 21 percent from the field in the opening stanza, hitting 6-of-28 field goals, including 0-of-5 from beyond the arc.

“We struggled to score today and we rushed shots early on,” Mitchell said. “That is a credit to their defense.”

Despite the offensive woes, Kentucky played solid defense, limiting Wisconsin (19-14, 6-12 Big Ten) to just 31.7 percent (19-of-60) from the floor. The Cats held UW’s leading scorer Alysaa Karel, who came into the game averaging a team-best 13.1 points per game, to just eight points on 3-of-18 shooting. But it was Wisconsin’s inside game that gave the Cats fits.

UK jumped out to a seven-point lead early in the second half thanks to six consecutive points by Ormerod. The senior capitalized on back-to-back old fashioned three-point plays, giving the Cats a 30-23 advantage with 11:40 to go. But, Wisconsin clawed back to tie the game at 34 apiece thanks in large part sophomore center Tara Steinbauer. Steinbauer scored four of her game-high 18 points in a critical 6-0 run late in the second half to give Wisconsin at four-point 44-40 lead with 2:50 to go.

A free throw by Wisconsin’s Rae Lin D’Alie pushed the lead up to five with 1:17 to go when Dunlap hit a layup with 49 seconds to go, pulling the Cats back within three, 47-44. Sophomore Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.), who finished with eight points, was fouled with :12.4 seconds left and she hit one of two attempts. Steinbauer again saved the day for the Badgers. The 6-1 center grabbed the defensive rebound on the missed free throw and was fouled. She calmly hit both free throws with .09 seconds remaining to give Wisconsin the win.

Kentucky’s 45 points marked the second-lowest scoring output of the season and the 27.5 field goal percentage (14-of-51) also was the second lowest.

This was Kentucky's sixth all-time appearance in the WNIT and the fourth in the last five years. The Wildcats, who have won at least 16 games five consecutive years, hold a 13-5 record all-time in the postseason event.

Seniors Jenne’ Jackson (Radcliff, Ky.), Ormerod (Louisville, Ky.) , and Roddy (Columbus, Ohio) conclude their Kentucky careers by helping the Wildcats compile a 93-57 overall record and while compete in a school-record five consecutive post season tournaments during their tenure.

Roddy’s 11 points and 10 rebounds marked her 16th career and SEC-leading 12th double-double of the season. She ranks fifth on UK’s career double-doubles list. Ormerod ends her career ranked in the top 10 on several of UK’s career lists, including three-pointers made, three-pointers attempted, three-point field goal percentage and assists per game list.