LEXINGTON, Ky. – Senior center Eleia Roddy (Columbus, Ohio) posted her sixth career and second double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds in a 59-50 loss to East Tennessee State on Friday in Memorial Coliseum.
The opening minutes were back and forth before East Tennessee’s Tara Davis and Gwen Washington hit back-to-back three-pointers to open up an eight-point lead. Kentucky (5-4) committed 11 first-half turnovers, giving ETSU 11 points and the Lady Buccaneers led by as many as 14 points in the opening stanza. UK trailed by eight, 35-27, despite a 26-14 rebounding advantage. The Cats shot 38.7 percent from the field and did not hit a three-pointer (0-of-2) in the first half while ETSU hit 42.9 percent and connected on 5-of-9 from three-pointers.
“Obviously, we didn’t play very well tonight,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We congratulate East Tennessee State because they clearly played harder and wanted to win more tonight. We had a big advantage on the offensive boards, but couldn’t make any of that pay off for us.”
Junior guard Amani Franklin (Stone Mountain, Ga.) opened the second half with a jumper to pull the Cats within six. However, the Lady Buccaneers would not collapse but instead mounted a 10-0 run sparked by a layup from Washington and a three-pointer by TaRhonda Wiles. That run gave them a 16-point (45-29) lead, their largest of the night. Sophomore guard Carly Morrow (Chattanooga, Tenn.) responded by hitting Kentucky’s lone three-pointer in the game to pull UK back within 13 (45-32). The Cats seemed to be mounting an attack of their own after Roddy, with the help of sophomore point guard Amber Smith (Winter Haven, Fla.), Franklin and Morrow, scored nine of UK’s next 15 points to pull UK within two (49-51) with 4:03 to play. However, Davis hit a jumper as time expired on the shot clock and Wiles rebounded a missed UK three-pointer and scored a bucket on the other end to push ETSU’s lead back to six with 1:48 left. Kentucky was able to get no closer and the Lady Bucs went on for the 59-50 win.
“We didn’t come mentally ready to play,” Mitchell said. “Even when we made our run, those were layups that we generated from our defense. As you can see in the second half we had several chances to take the lead and we couldn’t. I have never been around a team that shoots layups like this one does. I have to take responsibility to help them shoot layups better.”
For the game, UK shot 32.4 percent (22-of-68) from the floor, including 10 percent from the three-point line (1-of-10). The Cats also struggled from the charity stripe, hitting 5-of-13. ETSU hit 35.8 percent from the field (24-of-67), 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from three-point range and 50.0 percent (5-of-10) from the free-throw line. UK won the rebounding battle for the third consecutive game, 51-44, but couldn’t overcome 21 turnovers. ETSU scored 18 points off those miscues.
Kentucky played without senior point guard Carly Ormerod (Louisville, Ky.) and junior forward Lydia Watkins due to injuries.
The Lady Bucs had four players score in double-digits led by Wiles with 19 points.
The Wildcats have no time to rest as they face No. 12/13 Louisville (8-1) Sunday, Dec. 14 at 2 p.m. EST in Freedom Hall. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network with Neil Price.