BATON ROUGE, La. – Playing without leading scorer Rhyne Howard and senior point guard Taylor Murray, who missed the game due to injuries, the 16th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team knew it would need a team effort to get a win at LSU. And that’s exactly what head coach Matthew Mitchell and his team got as the Wildcats beat LSU 64-60 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Thursday night.
With the game tied inside the final minute, sophomore KeKe McKinney nailed a three-pointer with 20 seconds to go, giving the Cats the lead for good, as Kentucky won on the road in the SEC for the second consecutive Thursday night.
The Wildcats got 20 points from Maci Morris, who made her first four shots from the floor in the game. Morris, playing on an injured knee that kept her out of Sunday’s game against Ole Miss, hit seven of her 12 shots from the field in the game, including two of three from behind the arc, while making four of six at the free throw line.
With her 20 points on Thursday, Morris moved into ninth place on the UK career scoring list, passing former UK standout Sarah Elliott. Morris now has 1,515 points in her storied UK career.
Jaida Roper scored 10 points for the Cats, while Blair Green and Tatyana Wyatt each had nine. McKinney finished with six points and Ogechi Anyagaligbo added five.
Kentucky (16-3, 3-2 SEC) made its first four shots of the game, racing to a 9-2 lead. In fact, Kentucky would lead 13-2 after forcing LSU to miss six shots in a row. The Wildcats would extend the lead to 21-5 before LSU got three consecutive three-pointers to cut the lead to 21-14. That would be the score after one period. Green and Morris each had six points for the Cats, who hit nine of their 13 shots (69.2 percent) in the first 10 minutes.
Both teams struggled to score early in the second period. LSU finally got a basket with 7:44 left in the period to cut UK’s lead to 21-16. Kentucky got a basket from Morris to extend the lead to seven before LSU the next four points to cut the lead to 23-20, forcing a UK timeout with 5:23 to play in the half.
After LSU cut the lead to one, Kentucky got a huge three-pointer from Green to extend the lead to 26-22 with 2:18 to go in the half. After LSU hit one of two at the line, it was Morris’ turn, burying a three-pointer to extend the lead to 29-23 with 1:45 left in the half. The Cats then forced a turnover and got a basket from McKinney to lead 31-23.
Kentucky would lead 31-25 at the half. Morris led UK with 11 first-half points and Green had nine.
In the third period, the teams played evenly for the first five minutes, each scoring nine points, and Kentucky led 40-34. The Wildcats would lead by as many as eight, on three occasions, in the third period. But LSU scored the final five points of the quarter to cut UK’s lead to 50-48 with 10 minutes to play. Wyatt had a big third period for the Cats, scoring seven points, while Morris had five in the third quarter.
Kentucky got the first two points of the fourth period on a basket by Anyagaligbo, but LSU scored the next four points to knot the game 52-52, the first tie of the game. After Morris scored to give the Cats a 54-52 lead, LSU scored four in a row again, as the Tigers led for the first time in the contest, 56-54, with 5:06 left. But a free throw from Morris and a layup by Roper gave Kentucky a 57-56 advantage with 2:22 to play.
After an LSU turnover, Roper was fouled and connected on a pair of free throws with 1:38 on the clock, giving UK a 59-56 advantage. On its next possession, LSU turned it over again, but UK returned the favor, leading to an LSU layup from Ayana Mitchell that cut the lead to 59-58 with 1:07 to play.
Morris hit one of two at the line with 1:01 left to make it 60-58, but Mitchell scored again, this time with 45 seconds to play, tying the score at 60 apiece. But after a UK timeout, the Cats got the three-pointer from McKinney, giving UK a 63-60 lead with 20 seconds left. After LSU missed a layup, McKinney hit one of two free throws, giving UK a 64-60 lead and sealing the victory.
LSU (11-6, 2-3) got 19 points from Faustine Aifuwa.